One of the many delights of the cinematic medium is the art of the montage. Montages can transport us through time and space in a matter of cuts and seconds, where the juxtaposed images create an effortless narrative sequence. Though the method has since evolved into its own beast of tribulations and trickery, especially when dealing with non-narrative features. In a plight to stand out from the crowd, some film’s risk being too flashy while others play their wide array of editing techniques far too conservatively. But arguably, the best montages are the ones that reinvent the medium as a whole, where the montage itself is the primary storytelling vehicle. For example, take Tadhg O’Sullivan’s To The Moon, where the Ireland-based filmmaker created ten unique montages in consecutive sequences to create an elusive tribute dedicated to the moon.
The result of the ten montages is one that comes from an impressive amount of skill, where the film engrosses the viewer with a variety of subjects and themes per chapter. Ranging from images of worship, fear, supernatural events, social gatherings, and romantic congregations, each chapter in To The Moon begins with a quote, followed by archival footage and audio clippings from previously existing films, television episodes, and other third-party sources. The end result is an eclectic collection of stunning montages, that heavily rely on observation and patience. Each chapter is heavily perceptive, where they each attempt to evoke a certain emotion and feeling of nostalgia over a clear cut message.
While the content is undeniably slight due to the rather broad wavelengths regarding the subject of the moon itself, the conclusive end product is absolutely hypnotic. It’s a hazy picture, one that can be described as a masterwork of cinematic vertigo. The film lulls the viewer in, strapped with a tightening aspect ratio and gorgeous celluloid photography. As the images fly by, the more evident the film becomes in its questioning of the moon itself. The film attempts to answer the many different philosophical interpretations in regards to the very existence of the moon. While there’s no clear cut answer to O’Sullivan’s thesis, To The Moon still provides some insight in regards to the growth of human evolution and its correlation with the moon.
A great celestial-being hovering in the sky, To The Moon is a detailed and pensive tribute to the great satellite in the sky. A celebration and grave warning of both humanity’s great achievements and drastic downfalls, the film is simply — no pun intended — an otherworldly experience. Culminating different pieces of literature, ranging from the works of Robert Penn Warren and William Shakespeare alongside its anthropological observations, O’Sullivan’s pensive vision is one that comes from a place of dedication and honesty; an impressive experimental piece that is destined to find some sort of following amongst avid cinephiles.
Dir: Tadhg O’Sullivan
Scr: Tadhg O’Sullivan
Run time: 76 minutes
To The Moon screened at this year’s Festival Du Nouveau Cinema as part of the Les Nouveaux Alchimistes program.