Tribeca: “Beyond the Black Rainbow” is the most stunning movie at the festival (or the most boring)

This entry was posted on 27.04.2011

Beyond The Black Rainbow. photo: image.net

Beyond The Black Rainbow. photo: image.net

Yes, I will try to explain what “Beyond The Black Rainbow” is about later in this review. But no – you definitely shouldn’t read that paragraph in case you are still planning on seeing Panos Cosmatos’ fascinating debut feature which has its international premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival. Go and make sense and of the mess, the Greek-Italian-Canadian directors leaves behind, yourself!

“Beyond The Black Rainbow” is either the most compelling movie at the festival this year or one of the most boring – depends on if you are having a good day or a bad one. Don’t try to see this if you are tired, under the influence (especially of things other than alcohol) or if you’re depressed. And don’t say I didn’t warn you about this. But if you have a good day, the movie will easily be one of the most impressive science fiction you have seen in a very long time!

So what is “Beyond The Black Rainbow”? Cosmatos’ movie owes as much to Stanley Kubrick’s “2001″ as to David Cronenberg (think “Scanners” and “Videodrome”) while nodding to David Lynch. Just like in “2001″ a weird object (in this case: a pyramid) plays an integral part. Just like in “Videodrome” a cynical guy (in this case: Dr. Barry Nyle) is one of the lead characters.

“Beyond the Black Rainbow” is set in 1983 – the year “Videodrome” was released -, and if you wouldn’t know that it is a new release, you might think it was shot in the early Eighties. The pictures are grainy like on old televisions and only occasionally have a resolution so high that they have to be shot with modern cameras. The soundtrack is played on old synthesizers like the ones Cronenberg used. The one exception is a song from Venom’s debut “Welcome to Hell”, released in 1981.

Besides this “retro effect”, Cosmatos’ movie is visually stunning. The film maker knows how to use colors and visual effects in his first feature film. Sometimes the pictures are just red, sometimes everything goes dark and occasionally you see beautiful images of clouds or the outer space. For the most part of this 110 minute long movie these images are what you can hold on to while you try to figure out what is happening.

So what is “Beyond The Black Rainbow” about? Well, I give you this much without giving away too much: It’s about a girl Elena, who is 16 years old and who is either in solitary confinement or in therapy. Dr. Barry Nyle, himself cynical and depressive, is treating her until she is ready for the world. Not that this day seem to come anytime soon…

Only a few more characters appear: Dr Arboria, the founded of the institute where the girl is treated, a nurse, and a woman who is living with Nyle. And despite that small amount of persons who appear here, their relationship is much more complicated.

And here’s where I urge you to stop reading if you still want to see the movie. You are ready? Okay – then this is what I think is the story behind the movie.

Elena’s mother was killed by Nyle in 1966, just when the baby was born. Arboria and his assistant Nyle are trying to start a new form of human kind, and Elena is supposed to be the first of this kind. After all, she does have “super powers” (think “Scanners”). So who is the father? Arboria I assume, although I assume that Nyle had a relationship with the Elena’s mother. I might be totally wrong with this though – and if anybody has a better idea, let me know!

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