Friday Film: Victorian children + amateur zoology + giant robot squid

The Anachronism (Full Film) from Anachronism Pictures on Vimeo.

The full length version of The Anachronism, a short film by Matthew Gordon Long, has been released online. The only thing wrong with it is that it isn't longer. Give yourself a treat this weekend, enjoy the steampunk, and, if you're like me, reminisce about taking a textbook out into the forest to name things in Latin! I'll just give you one warning: this is a filmmaker who, unlike many others, knows how to let a mystery rest undisturbed. Yes, the film leaves you curious as heck, but in the end, I think that's a much better place to be than stuck with an ultimately disappointing/implausible overexplanation that drains the film of its atmosphere. So I'm torn. I'm love to see this expanded into a full-length feature film. . . and yet I think it's perfect as it is. Let's hope that either way, we see a lot more from Long.

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This steam-punk/Victorian morality play brilliantly acts out suppressed sexual awakening as the mother firmly squashes the explorations of brother and sister. While Freudian incest is probably not the prime intent here, one can only wonder why it is that the girl and not the boy fists the mechanical squid. It clearly gives the mother good reason to worry about sister's stain without washing away junior's sin. While not particularly exciting, it is a bright, multi-colored indictment of gender based inequality.

By A.Alaalas (not verified) on 23 Apr 2010 #permalink

and, if you're like me, reminisce about taking a textbook out into the forest to name things in Latin!

I'd be a much cooler person if I could reminisce about such things.

I'm not saying I had the book in the video. That is an awesome book. I had, like, an encyclopedia from 1985, and I never learned Latin. So I'm not that cool.

Oddly enough, as an older computer user who still practices the habits he learned in the 90s, I was pretty amazed when I click Full Screen on my new hardware and realized that this streaming video is better quality than anything I experienced watching four decades of television in the olden days. That it is an artfully told, ambiguous story is icing on the cake.

Are people really so complacent about how gorgeous this is, that they can quibble about the story? I had a marvelous teacher back in the '80s, who, when discussing John Coltrane, said, "Sometimes a great enough quantitative change is a qualitative change." This video stream is a great enough quantitative change.

Wow, very cool. I especially like the vagueness of the role of the mother in the whole thing. And I was wondering all the way through, where it was filmed, especially that rock bridge out to the island-- it's Pacific Northwest, British Columbia, assumably. Thanks for finding this! By the way, Vimeo rocks-- way cooler than YouTube. More art, less crap.

The engraving on the squid comes off of the golden record attached to the Pioneer spacecraft. I wonder what that means ...

An interesting analysis of the film AA!
Jonathon, for that reason I think she might have been a time traveller rather than an alien.

I think the family may be part of a Luddite sect that has deliberately isolated itself from technology, and the squid-pilot is either trying to reach them (perhaps she is from an orphaned colony world?), or was accidentally swept into their territory on her way to some other space/time.

When the squid begins transmitting a voice it is in Japanese.

At the end when they are collecting evidence it stats repeating "Okasan" which is "mother" as well as "Otosan" which is father. I'm not sure what it is saying but it repeats the phrases twice.

Also when it first transmits I hear a number being given, which I think is 15669. I don't know Japanese well enough to know what the number is referencing though.

By Jaketoadie (not verified) on 24 Apr 2010 #permalink

the national film board of canada ROCKS!

very cool. clearly, they're in the distant future and these are luddites on an island somewhere, and this japanese girl has gotten lost exploring, and the machine is telling her that her parents are calling her.

i like it a lot, whatever it means..

Thank you, Jaketoadie. That part had me as mesmerized as the mother scene at the end.

Lovely. My guess was pretty much a lost cross-time jaunter too, but I agree it's best left open.

I'm having a hard time understanding the Japanese, because of that weird electronic quality to it (and I'm out of practice and she speaks quite quickly), but the number that's said is actually a year. I *think* it's ååäºç¾ååäºå¹´, which is the year 4562.

The second part of the Japanese is actually a lot easier to understand, and it's really heartbreaking. "Dad, can you hear me? Mom, where are you please?" And it just repeats those two things over and over. The second sentence is kind of a guess. To me it sounds like she's saying, ããæ¯ãããã©ãè´ãã¦ä¸ããã, which is really hard to translate literally.

I got the same as rachel. The voice says the girls age, a year, and then family members (I am certain I heard ãã¨ã㨠[younger brother] there too).

Maybe she was travelling with a pod of her family members. Definitely very weird that it was Japanese and not an alien-alien language.

"one can only wonder why it is that the girl and not the boy fists the mechanical squid. "

Maybe because she is the one entering puberty, hence the stain on her dress, the mother's hostility, and the boy's innocent confusion. At least that's how I read it.

Meanwhile I feel like an official science nerd because I found myself distractedly annoyed with the ease with which they ID'd to species a random beetle (using a general taxonomy book yet).

@ 15

Getting the same.

Quite sad a story, and it really makes you want to know more. Especially with the image also being on the probe we sent to outer space; was it a contact mission?

Are the main characters stuck another of those 'The Village' colonies?

Although it's unlikely Japanese will be the human species' language in that year. Although, who knows, perhaps they built the first Gundams or something, and insisted the main language to be Japanese before sharing it and dawning in a new era ^^ (Which would be a fair price to pay, and I'm not just saying that because I partially paid it already ;) )

Thanks to Rachael, and jaketoadie, and all of you bringing your Japanese skills to bear on the clip. It seems to get even sadder the more you reveal!

But they leave the farm and run into a deciduous forest but in the next scene are depicted running thru a coniferous forest with a fern understory...

That's not all that weird for the pacific northwest/British columbia, where it was filmed. There are both deciduous trees and coniferous trees in close proximity. I think we're supposed to believe that they explore for a few hours or so between the farm and the water, as well.

For what it's worth, I had a friend of mine who is a native Japanese speaker listen to the dialogue. He actually had a hard time understanding it as well, just because of the sound quality I think. Here's what he said: "Her name is Miyuki and she's from and in order to avoid , she got stuck *** and can't get out. She's from the year 4562."

*** At some point in what she said, I heard her say ãã©ã³ããªã»ãã¤ã³ãã which I think is the name of the location where she's stuck. In English, something like "Landori Point" or something like that?

Ack. Let me try that again. I just realized that what my friend e-mailed me had angular brackets in it, so of course it's not showing up in HTML. So here:

"Her name is Miyuki and she's from [some organization] and in order to avoid [something], she got stuck [somewhere] and can't get out. She's from the year 4562."

I am a Japanese poor at English.
However, I cannot catch all.

ããã¡ã㯠***æ¤æ°å°(?)ã® ***(?)ã§ãã
ãç§ã®è¹ã¯ ã¸ã£ã¹ãã¨ã³ã(?)ã åé¿ããããã« 4562å¹´ ããããããã(?) ããã¦ããã(?)ã« çªå¥ã
ãç§ã¯ ç¾å¨ ã©ã³ããã¼ãã¤ã³ã(rendez-vous point)ã« éãè¾¼ãããã¦ãã¾ãã
ããã¨ããã èããã¾ããã
ãããããã ã©ããå¿çãã¦ãã ããã

The island is Whyte island, part of Whytecliff park in West Vancouver, near the Horseshoe Bay ferry terminals. If you're ever in Vancouver during the summer, the park is well worth a small trip or a picnic. As you can see from the link, it's also a popular scuba diving spot.

This may have a lot to do with points of reference. I have daughters and am, by by native country's (U.S.A.) standards, left-leaning.

I so appreciate the analysis on this. Well done. OH and the film...

UGH am deeply affected by this. New father of a darling 5 month old girl, imagining this girl's parents horror of losing their daughter. Ya, ya, just a movie...

The morality part of it aside; has the traveler already passed on? Was the fluid keeping her alive, say, for the time travel or did she drown in it? Do we know she's not actually still alive, just unconscious? It would seem the place was known to the siblings, so the craft has been there for, days, perhaps?

I've a couple Japanese friends, and will see if they've any interest in helping with the translation.

Nice post.