Review: Dead Horse Nebula
by Muriel Del Don
- LOCARNO 2018: Tarık Aktaş, a young Turkish director born in Germany, screens his first mysterious feature film in the Filmmakers of the Present section
Tarık Aktaş' first feature film, Dead Horse Nebula [+see also:
film profile], scooped the Award for Best Emerging Director in the Filmmakers of the Present section. The jury at the Locarno Film Festival decided to give the award to an unsettling yet poetic film that moulds reality into a dream.
Dead Horse Nebula – a Turkish (Hay Film) and French (Arizona Film) co-production – amazes with its grandiose yet simple imagery, which are both direct and metaphorical. At the age of seven, Hay, the protagonist of this exploration in memory, sees a dead horse. At first, he inspects the carcass with suspicion, a sort of fleeting imprint of a life that now belongs to the past. Despite his initial fear, curiosity leads him to get closer to the animal, or rather, its remains. This almost clinical observation of the carcass and the efforts of adults to get rid of the body leaves an indelible mark on the child.
Now an adult, Hay accidentally cuts his hand while sacrificing a sheep as part of a celebration. This incident, trivial in itself, evokes memories of his childhood and the encounter with the dead horse in particular. And so begins a metaphorical and dreamlike journey in which human beings, animals and nature seem to merge.
Dead Horse Nebula is built on a succession of small but significant incidents. Micro events that normally fade away without a trace but which, thanks to Tarık Aktaş' camera, become miraculously tangible. Living beings: humans, animals and nature meet and observe each other, demonstrating how similar they are deep down.
Dead Horse Nebula acts like a crossroads of memories: those of the director, but also those belonging to people who are close to him. It doesn’t really matter who the memories belong to, what matters is the cruel poetry of the images that accompany them.
Tarık Aktaş uses the medium of film to express this fleeting existence, the ambiguity of what we commonly call "reality." The main character observes the world that surrounds him through different eyes, as if the memory of a past event, the death of a horse, awakened him suddenly, evoking a world that he thought was buried in the past. Growing up, Hay analyses his childhood experiences in a conscious way, noting its essence. The concepts of materiality, similarities between humans and nature and the fleeting nature of existence become tangible. Dead Horse Nebula is a film that pushes us towards unexplored territory, aesthetically poetic and rich in mystery.
(Translated from Italian)
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