A man finds himself lost in the empty streets on the other end of sleep. At first, he is alone but he is soon faced with a hostile entity who appears familiar despite hiding behind a mask. Here is our review of singer, songwriter and film director Martin Del Carpio’s short film I, Dreaming.
According to the film’s director, “Dreams are nothing short of a mystery; they take place within a parallel existence within ourselves. They come from our own psyche with a possible connection to another level of reality. With ‘I Dreaming’ I wanted to capture that enigma visually. I find dreams that are dark more interesting as they tend to reveal more information as long as you are paying close attention.”
I Dreaming is a work that defies all attempts to explain either what it means or even the mechanics of how it was produced. There is no script involved and no dialogue it is a film based solely on a mixture of lights and sounds. An experimental structure that provides just enough storytelling points to give viewers something to cling to and then hits them with more of its avant-garde moments.
Opening with a quote from German film director Werner Herzog we are introduced to a man Stu Li alone in the street with darkness descending and lights flickering he discovers a book that when touched leads him further down a rabbit hole. We then follow Li on his odyssey through the night and to further revelations. Li is the only actor on show in the short and is fine in his limited role showing an ability to keep looking cool while all around him becomes more and more phantasmagorical.
I Dreaming is a 6-minute attack on the senses. Utilizing hallucinatory production design and special effects, everything from the old school film styles of back projections, simply changing the colour of the lighting gels equipment to the more modern CGI work, it helps to tell the short films story of dreaming or in other words Del Carpio’s idea of what happens when we dream.
We are treated to some haunting cinematography by the director of photography William Murray, who frames the shots to highlight the built-up areas of a run-down neighbourhood. There is a quality to the colour photography on show and it would be wrong to call it saturated. It is full of deep purples, reds, blues, and oranges and each one is rich, heavy and deep, yet the background looks cold, dark, dirty and ominous.
Graffiti features prominently as does a 2nd man dressed in black and wearing a mask who appears to be brooding and waiting like the Grim reaper disguised as a Cadbury’s milk tray man. He is never fully explained but he may or may not be our protagonist. The real highlight of the short is an astonishingly complex soundscape that combines industrial noise, crackles, scratches, and beats with a dark, moody, soundtrack from M. Nomized
The result is a film in which even though all of the elements may not add up they nonetheless maintain a consistency that helps with the experience. Even if you don’t get what you are seeing you are always interested in it and aware that Del Carpio has a point to all this. Although the actual point he is making we are never really exposed too. ‘I Dreaming’ is certainly not everyone’s cup of tea and doesn’t completely work but what it does contain as all fascinating experimental short films should, is some imagery and moments that stay with you.