Friday, January 05, 2007

Unknown Great Films nr. 41

I was reminded today of a short film called "" which I saw around the turn of the century as the warmup to some instantly-forgotten Hollywood crap or other. There was only one speaking role, a Kid of perhaps 8 years; the two other significant characters were his Dog and A Young Man In Israel.

The film begins with the Kid and the Dog walking about Los Angeles, where they meet a man handing out flyers: "Ask God your question, $10," How exciting! They go home, Kid gets onto the Internet and finds He considers what to ask, aided by soulful staring into the eyes of Dog, and finally types in: "Do you exist?" Ah, but where to get ten dollars? He sneaks into his father's home-office and takes his wallet (Dad has his back to us and doesn't notice). In goes the credit card number, the Internet replies "Your message has been sent, please wait for an answer."

Change of scene. It's early morning in Jerusalem and a cascade of paper is rolling out of the fax machine of the Young Man, who is praying in the background. The fax is the night's harvest of questions to God from the website; he cuts it into separate strips, each question alone for itself. He mutters a brief prayer over each strip, then rolls it into a tight ball which he places carefully into a plastic bag.

Change of scene, the Young Man is at the Wailing Wall. He takes a rolled-up question out of the bag, mutters a brief prayer, and pushes it into a crack in the Wall, then chooses the next question. But! Alas! unnoticed by him, one question falls from the bag and lands on the ground. It remains there all day, and at nightfall is swept up with the day's litter and thrown away.

Change of scene, back to Los Angeles. Kid at the computer: "You have no mail." Kid is desolate, Dog looks sadly on. Next day: "You have no mail." Next day: "You have no mail." Next day: "You have no mail." Next day: "You have no mail." Next day: "You have no mail." Next day: "You have no mail."

Kid is in despair, heartbroken, bereft, robbed of all hope. Dog is blinking back canine tears.

Kid says: "It's true, God does not exist."

Computer says: "Bing! You have mail!" The sender is Mail message says: "Yes, I do so exist."

Kid is surprised, relieved, happy. Kid asks: "Where are you?"

Computer bings, the mail message has acquired a second line: "I'm here."

Kid is confused. Kid asks: "What do you mean, 'here'?"

Computer bings, the mail message has acquired a third line: "Here! Right here, in the room with you."

Kid looks around, doesn't spot God; all the while Dog is looking intensely at Kid. Kid notices, looks back at Dog. Dog nods. Kid is ecstatic.

Computer bings, the mail message has acquired a fourth line: "And I know where you got the ten dollars."

The end.

It was just wonderful. I was overwhelmed, I could have left the cinema after that quarter-hour, the so-called main attraction had nothing to offer me.

I spent a while googling the film before writing this, and didn't find much that was of use. A single-sentence reference somewhere said that it was a film school project from UCLA in 1998. I found discussion pieces in German (catholic) and English (the San Fransisco Jewish Film Festival). Interestingly both of those discussions left out what was to me the most important moment of the film: the Kid's anguish and despair, the moment during which he cannot believe. How strange.

Before you ask, this is only the second Unknown Great Film. The first was nr. 37. I just like prime numbers.



Blogger brooksba said...

Good concept. Sounds like a good film.

January 6, 2007 at 8:10:00 a.m. GMT+1  
Blogger CarpeDM said...

This really sounds interesting.

January 7, 2007 at 2:16:00 a.m. GMT+1  

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