Review of Negative Space (2017): A Poem In a Short Film

It is easy to recognise the physical space we occupy, but there are some spaces that we occupy and allow others to do the same without clearly recognising or being aware of: one such space is the subconscious.

Here is the short film:

Short Film: Negative Space

Based on a poem written by Ron Koertge and that goes by the same name, Negative Space, describes the bond shared by a father and a son. To read the original poem, click here.

There are some differences in the original poem and the one adopted by the film. However, essentially remaining loyal to the core meaning and theme of the poem. In the film version, omission or alteration of few words from the original poem adds to the poetic feel of the film, and leaves, enough room for the audience’s interpretation.

The line that made me think the most was the last one, “look at all that wasted space.” Specifically, the words “wasted space”. For me, these words have three interpretations.

One, being the son is literally looking at the unused space in his father’s coffin and thinking about the effect his father had upon him. In other words, he is conditioned to think like his father.

Alternatively, it could also mean the son is looking at the space literally occupied by the lifeless body of his father, which he considers to be “wasted space”, as there is no life in that body. In other words, no more subconscious space to engage.

Or, thirdly, it could be a mixture of both the previous perspectives making the lifeless body and the space around it a waste.

On this year’s Father’s Day, I couldn’t think of any better film. It makes me ponder about my relationship with my father, “What did we connect on?” When I tried to think about it consciously, I couldn’t think of anything that we specifically did together that built our relation. It was during a conversation with my sister that I realised the missing piece.

Well, we connected on an imaginative level. My father and I went to take out our dog, Olly, for a walk just outside our house. He had recently got the house painted, and he got the window arches specifically coloured light blue. As we went out, my focus was on Olly, and when for a moment I turned, I saw my father looking at the house dreamily. I went and stood right next to him to see what he was looking at. After passing of a few moments, I asked, and he said, “Isn’t it looking like a ship?” That was all I needed. After that, I went to the roof, and pretend played Titanic for months. Spread my arms, stood over the corner railing with white clouds floating over my head, I am flying…

In the previous post, I had talked about the negative side of being dyslexic and how being one made me stand alienated at school, and sometimes at work. In this post, I share the positive side that is I get to share a unique worldview like my father.

Ooh! Writing the last line gave me a sense of power and connectedness that I have sensed in ages. It makes me realise how I have acquired some of the challenges that had been a theme in his life. He still, after his departure, stands as a hero for me. Giving me strength by reminding me that if he had made through this world, so would I. Today, even though I do experience occasional struggles in a workspace, I don’t mind it, or at least, learning not to. I will not exchange or hide this power of dyslexia that he has given me for petty spelling errors or unpoetic grammar rules. I would rather fly…

Maybe it’s a coincidence or a divine signal that I figured out these connections and gifts just around Father’s Day, and I am getting to share this film with you. Stop motion films always amaze me. It is stunning to witness the way they create a miniature version of the set and the characters, further, how the way every frame is short to make a film; it’s all magical.

This film is not going to disappoint its audience. Every frame is patiently, beautifully shot and created. Moreover, the most beautiful quality of this movie is the way one scene flows into another. The seamless transition not only makes this film look beautiful but also keep the audience griped. The background sound is well chosen and sicced with the picture motion adding to the poetic feel. I have also noticed certain pauses in the narration which, in my opinion, were well-timed and paced.

Though this is definitely not a happy film that you can sit with your father and watch, it does have the quality to internalise and reflect the relationship that you have (had) with your father.

Write a comment in the section below, sharing your experience of watching this movie. Does it make you realise something peculiar about the relationship that you share with your father?

Now, if you are like me, a living juxtapose; grammar rules torment you, but you still love writing. Then I recommend you the book Sense of Style by Steven Pinker. In this book, he does not explain the grammar rules but shows them to you in action, which is definitely the best way to go about things.

I also want to share another book with you called Notice Period by Ronojoy Sircar. The reason I recommend this book is particularly because of its last section called Revision, where the poet doesn’t just write the poem for you, he visualises/shows the poem to you. For example, there is this poem called ‘Quietness, like a drop of water’. When you read this poem not only will you experience the words through your visualization or imagination, but also experience it in 3D form as the letters drop like a water droplet on the paper, and scatters all over your imagination. To order this book, email or leave a comment in the comment section below.

Also, share how did you celebrate Father’s Day with your dad. If you are a father, share with us your quirky fatherly moments in the section below.

Until next blog, stay safe and healthy.

Happy Father’s day!