To Be or Not To Be short film review


Directed by: Philip Brocklehurst

Written by: Philip Brocklehurst

Starring: P.M. Thomas

Film Review by: Jason Knight

Still Image from To Be or Not To Be showing protagonist.
Still Image from To Be or Not To Be

A short film about life and death. About choosing to live or not to live.

'To be or not to be' is the opening phrase of a soliloquy uttered by Prince Hamlet in William Shakespeare's play Hamlet, Scene 1, Act 3. During his speech, Hamlet ponders death and suicide. This line is one of the most quoted lines in modern English.

The film contains two storylines, the first being death, the second life, both of which start with the words 'to be or not to be'. It film begins with a black screen. It then cuts to a closeup of a man's eyes. A voice-over is heard throughout, that consists of the man's inner thoughts, as he contemplates taking his own life. The man is inside a room and next to him, he has a handgun. He concludes that he has no reason to exist, takes the gun, points it to his head and pulls the trigger. The second part begins the same way, with a closeup of the man's eyes (his face is never seen) and starts of with the same words, but then changes to more positive phrases, indicating that life is worth living. Still, he places the gun on his head again, and pulls the trigger, but it does not fire. The narrator's last words are: 'To be'.

For the first half, during which the man believes that life is meaningless and kills himself, the tone is distressing and depressing. Then the atmosphere changes thanks to the words of the voice-over, which embrace life and the film ends on an uplifting note, with the man alive.

This project was filmed in black-and-white, apart from one shot. That particular shot takes place after the man has shot himself and depicts the his lifeless hands, still holding the gun, lying motionless on a red carpet. It is a rather haunting image and the fact that the carpet is red could be due to the man's fatal injury or it could symbolize the devastating occurrence that has just taken place.

Thomas delivers a good performance, making his movements look realistic. There is no music, with the exception of the closing credits, during which Timur Sharifullin's dramatic score effectively closes the film. Credit also goes to Muhammad Holmatov, whose editing is meticulous.

The film is approximately two minutes long and during that time it provides a thoughtful experience and pays tribute to an outstanding writer and dramatist.