Directed by: #KeithWilhelmKopp
Written by: #LaurenceGuy
Short Film Review by: #ChrisBuick
Despite numerous movies, television dramas and documentaries on the subject, it is always difficult for civilians to fully understand how life in the military can truly change a person - from the emotional trauma and post-traumatic stress that soldiers can suffer while serving in the armed forces, to the huge difficulties they can face when they return to normal life. While war itself is a horrendous thing, the effects it has on those fighting can be equally devastating, at times physically but more often mentally, with many who go off to serve never returning quite the same as when they left.
Ex-soldier Victor (Ben Nash) has a job working the night-time janitorial shift at a grand museum. Here is the only place Victor can be alone and during these late hours, he struggles to come to terms with his past, his former military life having left him feeling disconnected from society. Each night he exchanges simple pleasantries with Jill (Gemma Reynolds) who works in the building, admiring her from afar, but never being able to get past his demons to move the conversation onto something more than a mere greeting. Unable to connect with her and with the place mainly to himself, Victor spends his nights literally dancing and fighting with a manifestation of his younger self from his military days (played by William Bull), trying to let go of its shadow and questioning whether he will ever be able to break free from his past to live a normal life and truly connect with anyone.
Director Keith Wilhelm Kopp bases the premise of this film on his own military experience, with Turned to the Sun making up part of a loose trilogy of films called The Soldier’s Journey. The film raises some pertinent questions around how ex-soldiers struggle to re-adjust to normal life after their service and deals with the issues of #PTSD. The film doesn’t necessarily answer these questions which might be because there is no right answer, but it also doesn’t seem to hammer its point home as much as it should and could maybe have benefited from some stronger impactful moments.
Turning the metaphor of fighting your demons into a literal sense is clever here and with some good camera work, it brilliantly illustrates Victor’s inability to move past his experiences as he is locked in a constant battle with his former self. Ben Nash as Victor delivers a very convincing performance where you do believe that underneath the brave face, there is something lying underneath that he is clearly struggling with and his inner monologue played over the action helps highlight his frustration in a search for answers. The #shortfilm leaves you with a feeling of hope, but the closing shot hints that his past will always be part of him in some capacity.
Regardless of your stance on the subject of war, it is hard to argue that we should respect the brave men and women who are fighting for their respective countries. Turned to the Sun is a respectable short film that highlights an important topic surrounding the psychological barriers that soldiers can face and how difficult it is to connect with society as a result if they are unable to move past them.