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The Lost Paradise documentary short review

★★★★

Directed by: #TanmaySrivastava

Written by: #ZachBoynton and #JudiCarreon

Starring: #AlainAzoulay

 

Poster for the 'The Lost Paradise' showing a orange sky against a beachfront.

Truth is stranger than fiction.


The history of the world is vast and bizarre, filled with billions upon billions of memories and moments. Some lost, some immortalised, trivial and exemplary, through war and peace, love and death, the road map of the human species has seemingly seen and heard it all. This is why when I learned through this documentary that the government of the Republic of Nauru, a small island in Oceania decided to invest their economy and bet big on a west end musical production based on the life of Leonardo da Vinci I thought it was a glitch in the matrix. No matter how much we seem to understand about this world, there’s always something else to learn that will absolutely break your brain, though Leonardo the Musical is just a small piece to this vast puzzle.


I knew nothing about the island of Nauru but its story is tragically familiar as The Lost Paradise is an efficient and educational film that charts the downfall of a country. Running at nineteen minutes, director Tanmay Srivastava and writers Zach Boynton and Judi Carreon impressively break down the history of Nauru from its discovery to the modern day. Themes of colonisation, industrialisation, enterprise and corruption encompass the film as Nauru’s rich phosphorus deposits in the early 20th century led to great wealth. This wealth soon ran dry and forced the island’s government to make extreme unethical decisions for survival. Srivastava presents this film as a cautionary tale in the squandering of resources as Nauru today finds itself a husk of what it used to be due to greed and cruelty.


Financial fraud and human rights abuses mar contemporary Nauru’s history in The Lost Paradise, a direct result of those made powerful wanting to hold onto their wealth. The island has been ravaged by this selfishness and is a harrowing example of poverty. The filmmakers present this timeline of events with the same candour as a historian, the professionalism clear in the editing and scripting of the film. While I’m sure there is much more story and detail to tell, The Lost Paradise serves as a compelling summary. The majority of the film is composed of archival footage; newsreels and reports covering everything from phosphorus mining to refugee camp abuses. There are talking-head interviews but they seem to be accompanying the footage so the filmmaker’s presentation is woven together by the narration from Alain Azoulay.


We get glimpses of the state of modern-day Nauru and how its precarious future as the land has become inhospitable and its citizens suffer. It’s bleak but Srivastava and his team layout with clinical prowess how this came to be, The Lost Paradise is a warning to the audience, not a salvation.

 

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