Dead Horse Nebula
One ultimate virtue of a work of art is the measure by which it does not make everything explicit. In this respect, Tarik Aktas’ Dead Horse Nebula is a paradigmatic example, as the story of its main character, Hay, is neither informative nor conclusive. Hay’s improbable “adventures” are mainly immersed in a colourless daily life, but this line of narrative constitutes only a sort of pretext for a lateral storytelling that appears to be more relevant. The death of a horse, and the story of the removal of its corpse; the killing of a sheep; the cutting of a tree, and the telling of its destiny, from the forest to a construction site: all these seemingly accidental events –things that appear to just happen, beyond any deliberate agency – constitute for us a parallel line of thought, that focuses on the theme of the violence of men towards nature.
The long contemplative shots give a transcendental touch to this parallel line of thought, which therefore becomes a properly filmic line of thought. Aktas’ cinematic language is able to create a new atmosphere of interrogation and astonishment, where several elements slowly emerge to anchor our reflection to an iconic ground: more precisely, machines and ropes are the intermediaries between man and nature, showing both the strength and fragility of our bold confrontation with nature. Nature can take its revenge on us: like an invisible constellation of events that has originated with the hybris of a child profaning the dead body of a horse out of curiosity, the “dead horse nebula” will finally appear under the sinister shape of a whistling owl to take its revenge…
Even if Dead Horse Nebula seems to be ungenerous with its spectator, it is a film that still works in our mind and imagination after the screening. The force of cinema is apparent (also) when what we see can be encapsulated neither in a sentence or a concept, nor in an accomplished story. Dead Horse Nebula builds a new territory that only cinema can offer. (GDS)
Text: Giuseppe Di Salvatore
First published: August 15, 2018