Directed by: Dan Behshad
Written by: Dan Behshad
An experimental #shortfilm from one-man-band filmmaker Dan Behshad, who not only writes, directs, edits, produces and stars here, but is also the cameraman. Adopting a mockumentary style, A History Long Forgotten is an ‘alien in a foreign land’ fable that denounces modern life and all of its soulless trappings.
Leo (Dan Behshad) is announced by the narrator (John Darvall) as being an escaped mental patient near the beginning of the movie. After regaling the audience with a little backstory, the narrator goes on to describe the details of Leo's emergence into the real world as it is happening. At first, Leo finds tranquility amongst the natural beauty of the world, however, it's not long before our protagonist finds himself amongst the urban population which is riddled with pollution, claustrophobia, and smelly fast food.
There is a nice structure to Behshad's piece. He moves his character from a place of freedom to a world of chaos and consumerism with excellent pacing. The intimacy of the visuals being juxtaposed with the various locations is particularly brilliant. Seeing close ups of Behshad's subtly emotive face depending on his surroundings was a great way to inject emotion into the film. Even if, at times, he visage resembles that of Daniel Radcliffe's in Swiss Army Man.
The limitations of a specific #filmmaking approach or gimmick can often be restrictive and that is definitely true to a certain extent in A History Long Forgotten. By offering the central and only character no lines or explicit emotional behaviour, aside from those small expressions, the short film struggles to cement the relationship with the viewer. As a result, the isolation and distance that Leo feels towards the modern world is mirrored by ours towards him. Whilst the narration does an amicable job of providing detailed information about what we are seeing and how Leo feels about it, the exposition starts to feel burdensome, leaving little room for the audience to connect or ponder. As the script takes a nosedive into preachy territory in the latter sections of the movie, many viewers are likely to be unprepared to concern themselves in any particularly meaningful way.
The scope of A History Long Forgotten is impressive and there is a nice idea at the movie's heart. To embrace a thoughtful discussion on the world's global issues, storytellers may need to utilise alien characters who can highlight the dangerous indifference we have to the suffocating issues around us, such as climate change and homelessness. In order for these films to be truly successful, however, they will need to elicit more empathy from the audience than Behshad does here.