THE PLAINS: The Beginning of the Journey is at Mind’s Realm [IFFR-08]

Playing a kind of time thief in the most visible part of the city that will make you completely unclothed, The Plains (2022) is looking for someone to share this theft in daily life. While thoughts about the spirit of memories embrace the birth of many rooms in the mind, there are topics that we will talk about from afar. The Plains takes the light source of its structure from its communication with the outside, but this communication is not reflected on the screen in any way. The communication tool that belongs to the outside is often the voice behind the phone, but as the audience, we cannot witness that voice in person. Director David Easteal‘s feature film debut, The Plains, questions our belonging to a room that will make you forget you’re in the frame. Although this room took its light from the windows when it looked like a car, its curtains are entirely made of experiences.

Let’s Meet When the Clock Hits 5 Every Day

Although the subject of death is not the main theme in the movie, it makes itself felt as an intermediate theme. Especially the memories of the main character Andrew (Andrew Rakowski) about his relatives create a serious weight in the car while passing the death theme tangentially. Like a rite of solitude, we find ourselves in the car at the same time every day, caught up in the necessity of action, on the move. Although the vehicle we are in has infinite motion modules, we have entered a visually motionless area. While this ignites the points of opposition in the film, on the other hand, it invites the viewer to a claustrophobic space multiplied by two or three. The fact that the car creates a certain dynamism outside, in the city, imprisons the same dynamism for the person driving it. We wait perched in the back seat of a car for 3 hours in total, waiting for our light to turn on. Every memory that is a guest inside the car steals this light as its narrative.

In this sense, The Plains depicts the city as an apartment building. The cars in the city are imagined as each one’s personal room in this apartment. It is difficult to please the architect of the room because it has external variables. In a sense, while the subject of the room tries to define his own freedom, the claws of daily life gnaw at the subject every time he enters the room, taking advantage of the gaps in his definition of freedom. Based on David Easteal’s position on the viewer, we certainly cannot evaluate The Plains as a documentary. Although it tastes the fruits of the documentary genre in line with the dynamics of the film, the plains that are shot with the drone that appear in the film and that give the film its name, preserve the originality of the fiction.

Traffic is the Streets of the Delivered Rooms

Featured in the Tiger Competition category at the 51st International Film Festival Rotterdam, The Plains brings you home safely. It does not step into cross-cutting or dead-end streets. In this sense, it’s driving very cautiously. There is an interesting gravitational force in the vehicle, where we always meet at the same place at the same time whenever the sequence changes. It is not known whether it is because of the special light field at that time of the day or because of the security of the sheltered place, but this shooting angle of the film is the kind that makes the audience curious. When today’s social media tools are unfolded, it seems as if the world is a huge exhibition area, and The Plains is an artistic work exhibited before our eyes. Director David Easteal‘s appearance as a character under the name David is a good example of his character’s passivity towards Andrew. While these core characters are visually incarnated as individuals, imaginatively, David takes on the car itself and Andrew as the person who drives it. Thus, we see that David embraced the still image in the movement of the car at the point where he remained silent, leaving questions unanswered or open. Since the car is constantly in motion and all the places we visit feed a static image, it is the people in this vehicle that are the most immobile among a ton of motion.

In addition, there are forms of existence that are involved in the film via the telephone or radio. These can be considered as intruders of the entity. On the other hand, as far as we have observed, these voices are the only means of communication of the characters with the outside. While the sound transforms into a single image in this way, all the characters whose faces we do not see wander around the whole screen as the image of what is being said. After all, we can’t see the faces of those who get in and out of the car. We only have a slight idea what their bodies look like dwelling into the daily life, but none of them can get one step ahead of the sound on the radio. The imagery of sound has great significance in this regard.

Don’t Let Me Lose Communication with Myself

Such referential elements also prevent the subject of fixed time in the film from being brought into the mind because time does not flow in any way: It turns into a tagged image. While the fact that the car is taken away from the timer because of some passages is the bearer of the screen, it has equal rights to each position. Although the same is not true for the characters inside. So we can say that the car has the potential to represent birth and death in the form of a mother’s womb. While the conversations between Andrew or David open transit paths in the existential states of the characters, the vocal communications from the outside to the inside make these paths feel undeniably internal. The Plains is a film that evokes desire, which heralds human needs rather than necessity. It creates new images on the way to human reconciliation whenever conflict arises.

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