Film of the Day (04/05/18): The Congress

The Congress
Written By Stanislaw Lem (novel) and Ari Folman (screenplay)
Directed by Ari Folman

If you’ve never seen Waltz With Bashir, you should. Without going into plot details, I’ll just say that it has a very unique visual style, blending animation with reality, and the results are stunning to look at. Following that same path, director Ari Folman has once again created something arresting, with some deep thought attached to it.

Films are entertainment. A distraction from daily life (though we often don’t consider the scope of the endeavor as a whole and how many daily lives revolve around and depend on the medium), yet one that feels essential. It comes down to stories. We, as a species, want to be told stories. Behind those stories are real people. Writing them, directing them, constructing them, animating them, producing them, and acting in them. But what happens if that choice is taken away?

In this science fiction tale that doesn’t seem too far down the road of possibility, the studios are no longer interested in dealing with actors. They’ll pay for those people to sign over a digital version of themselves, scanned from every facet of their likeness and personality, so they can make anything they desire using those people. The results are films that look every bit as real as the ones we consume now. Except it was never shot on any actual set with actual people.

What follows is an acid trip, somewhere between the visual stylings of A Scanner Darkly and the hallucinogenic tone of Brazil, and it’s very effective. The film has a lot to say about corporate greed, aging, preservation, control, the freedom (or illusion) of choice, and the nature of the stories we tell ourselves. It can be bold, scary, virtuous and at times nonsensical.

Just like those same stories.

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