Directed by: #ColinHickey
Written by: #ColinHickey
Stills from this film would not look out of place next to Rembrandt’s The Night Watch in Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum. Nor would it look out of place in the Louvre, sharing a room with the Mona Lisa. Colin Hickey’s film stretches the limitations presented by narrative films and every pixel of The Evening Redness in the South shines with artistic quality.
A cement mixer churns and dominates the lives of the men working on the building site in modern-day Ireland. These men are like the cathedral builders of old, doomed to construct forever, but they will never see the final product. These men would not look out of place in a highly detailed landscape piece by John Constable. But, the tones of 19th-century realism are calmed down by the abstract sky, which shares hints of Turner and O’Keefe. This artistic treasure is a tone-poem. It’s genuinely experimental and is not restricted by dialogue. Each shot seems to be conjured out of oil paints and charcoal, and the sounds that we hear – from the scraping of cement to a baby’s cry - come together to create the noise of life. This film is the illustrated story of the workers on the building site, and their lives, hopes and dreams.
While the visuals are beautiful, from a hand moving slowly across the flat blue expanse of sky, or blue curls of smoke fanning out in a black room, the visuals are not the only important aspect of Hickey’s work. The wordless sound design creates a living orchestra. From the noises associated with the building site, to music only found in cathedrals, what you hear is just about as important as what you see. Whether it’s water lapping, breathing or simply walking, it is exciting to notice how vital the little sounds are, and how intentionally these sounds are brought to the foreground.
This is a story which – welcomely - forgoes the restraints of a three-act structure. There aren’t any rules and regulations here. This film could make its home on a big screen, but it could also find a life illuminated on the walls of an art gallery. However, in this poetic mish-mash of hopes, dreams and experiences, this certainly is a case where style over substance dominates. While it is undoubtedly breathtakingly beautiful, it is a few steps away from a masterpiece. Unlike a similarly experimental film, like Tarkovsky’s Mirror, The Evening Redness in the South occasionally lacks that emotional heart and depth to really propel it to greatness.
This is a film which truly elevates the art of filmmaking. Each still could easily be hung from a wall, and no one would guess it came from a moving picture rather than the end of an artist’s brush. It is clear that filmmaker, Colin Hickey, is a true artist. Although prone to dip into moments of pretension, watching this film is like seeing cinema rise anew.