Walden [verb], directed by Emma Rozanski
Program 1: April 22 at 3pm
Walden [verb], directed by Emma Rozanski, uses an impressionistic 3-channel video installation to tell the story of a young woman living in the snowy wilderness. (The film is presented at WOEFF with the three channels sharing the screen side-by-side.) The use of three channels amplifies the environment and landscape and gives a deeper purpose to the young woman's way of living. The cinematography stands out in the film as the picture gives even more meaning behind the central themes of Walden [verb].
The film begins with each channel displaying the same or very similar images. The young woman states she is going to the woods. The quick-cut editing shows us the small number of items she brings with her to the woods, and she dances in excitement. At this point, the 3-channel video has not shown completely separate images.
Once the young woman has entered her new environment, the cinematography shifts. Each of the three channels of video becomes unique in its own way. One frame may display text. Another frame may show the woods. As the young woman becomes better accustomed to her new living conditions, each frame begins to display more of the trees and life around her.
The cinematography evokes a specific feeling to the atmosphere and wilderness. The frozen landscapes and snow-covered grounds are beautiful but also create a sensation of discomfort due to the frigid temperatures that are so easy to feel. The young woman is also consistently covered in blankets to keep her warm. The audience is invited to share those same experiences with her.
The cinematography also captures the passage of time to a great extent. The young woman who is living in the woods can be seen doing numerous activities. Those activities include planting seeds, reading, hammering, and many others. Each of the three channels of video creates a unique sense of survival, boredom, meditation, and the passage of time. There is beauty in each of the activities that the young woman does, even if it is hard to tell what her goal is at that moment.
One scene that shows the passage of time is the young woman reading. As she reads Lewis Carroll's Alice Through the Looking-Glass, she entertains herself by reading in voices and sometimes spinning as she reads. This scene shows the passage of time; in fact, it is by far the longest segment of the film. It is also the only scene that takes place indoors. Even though she reads inside a structure, the view of the camera is from outside. To add to the passage of time, the 3-channel video creates an illusion: the images mirror each other at moments during the scene, making it look as if the young woman is looking at herself in a looking-glass created on-screen.
The cinematography shows the beauty in nature that cannot always be seen. The visuals of the natural landscape are breathtaking, yet feel dream-like. The sensations created by the structure and content of Walden [verb] are unique and unforgettable.
-Gabe Wyatt, BFA Film Production ’27