SHORT FILM REVIEW: LIMBO (2016)

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Writer/Director: Konstantina Kotzamani

Twelve boys, one Albino child and a dead whale washed up on a shore… –  the logline for LIMBO has all the ingredients of a nightmarish children’s story, or the opening of a bad joke.  However, LIMBO asks many questions about humanity, morality and boyhood and takes some bold shots at imposed masculinity and male dominance under the guise of religious entitlement.

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The first shot offers up a couple of meanings of the title word. One being the well-known state of uncertainty between life and death, the other: a place for the unbaptised souls of children. Interesting, because the limbo serves as the literal location of a nowhere land the children (possibly dead, possibly shipwrecked) reside in – and also epitomises the changes they are going through. Childhood innocence gradually gives way to dubious adult experience.

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The boys, who refer to themselves as ‘The Twelve’ take it upon themselves to avenge the burning virgin Mary they assume caught fire because of one boy – one they believe to be inhuman. He’s Albino. He’s a loner. He proposes no real threat and keeps himself to himself. Nonetheless the children see him as a danger.

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On the surface, writer and director and Konstantina Kotzamani’s film emphasises what children are capable of, especially in the absence of adults, but more importantly it holds a mirror up to the systemic strongholds that religion still holds over societies today. The image of these presumably unbaptised souls carrying an effigy of the Virgin Mary is peculiar but poignant – when it catches fire, (perhaps another denouncement of their doomed souls), we’re constantly reminded of the New Testament through a series of Christ-like images. It’s an allegory infused with biblical symbolism. It’s the twelve disciples and the crucifixion of Jesus.

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When watching this viewers may also be reminded of The Lord of the Flies, similarly dystopian, allegorical and compelling – even a little scary – and there’s uncertainty knowing for sure if the stunning penultimate scene, where the sound of a swarm of flies engulfs the shot, is a nod but it’s stunning all on its own.

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LIMBO is a visually stunning piece of film. Breathtaking in fact – each shot evoking questions and emotions that compensates for sparse dialogue.  It’s a haunting attack on the visual senses and a beautifully made piece of moving art.

 

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