Sunday, August 9, 2009

Premonition Following an Evil Deed (1995) A Short Film by David Lynch

In 1995, several internationally acclaimed directors were offered a chance to shoot a 55-second film using the original camera of the Lumière brothers, the French duet responsible for the dawn of cinema. Three restrictions were imposed - time length, eschewing of sync sound, no more than three takes - in order to approximate the look and feel of the brothers' pioneering cinematic works, given the context of a century of cinematic maturation. Despite the breadth of intriguing names involved, the results in the completed documentary are somewhat stale, with a few exceptions, namely David Lynch's micro-masterpiece, Premonition Following an Evil Deed. His entry towers over the rest, if only for the uncontested devotion to creating something that would provoke and engage rather than using the opportunity simply for experiment, or, even worse, self-fulfilling cuteness. The film progresses as follows: a middle-aged woman in dismay, a dead woman on a lawn before policemen, a cryptic sequence where zombie-like creatures in a steamy room boil naked women in tubes, and policemen entering a house to inform the dismayed woman and her husband of, presumably, the dead woman shown before. In a way, it's a mini procedural drama, reminiscent of Twin Peaks, but is at once completely elusive. Who is the murderer? Who is the victim? The title provides some assistance, perhaps placing the mother as the murderer of her own daughter while subsequently being haunted by malign images of guilt. In the end though, it's as just as much a smoke and mirrors act as Lynch's best work, where he teases you with possibilities of finding a solution but ultimately intends only for the viewer to be swept up by mystery. Premonition Following an Evil Deed, a monochrome fantasia that hearkens back to the wonder of early motion pictures while keeping in line with a modern, abstract sensibility, does exactly that.

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