Here Today, Gone Tomorrow
Dec 7, 2023
Independent and experimental filmmaker Philip Brocklehurst has made numerous intriguing short films about dying and starring himself, credited as P.M. Thomas. This is another one.
Since the duration is one minute and fifteen seconds, it would be difficult to analyse this short without including any spoilers.
Shot in black-and-white, with the camera constantly static and without any speech, this project was made in a way that looks like one long take through the use of creative editing. Following a title card, the film fades into an interior shot of a large window with net curtains, probably inside a house. Then, a man (Thomas) appears through dissolve, apparently naked, sitting on the window sill, facing left, in what appears to be a sort of fetal position, completely still. Again through dissolve, he maintains the same posture, however his head is now up. Then his position changes more significantly, as his legs are now flat on the sill, while his back remains up. Then, he is lying down completely, before he disappears, leaving the screen back to the empty window. Then, a basket and a vase containing flowers appear on the sill, along with what appears to be an urn. Then, the basket fades away, then the vase and finally the urn, leaving only the window again. All this is accompanied by beautiful and melancholic music by one of Brocklehurst's frequent collaborators: Vladislav Nogin.
As mentioned the film looks like one long take and this is thanks to Brocklehurst's editing techniques. He utilises dissolve quite effectively, making each shot enter the next one smoothly and create the impression of disappearance.
So what is the meaning of everything in the film? It could be interpreted as a journey. The journey of human's. As mentioned, the man first appears in a posture that resembles the fetal position, which could be seen as his birth, the beginning of his life. The next two postures seem to gradually move towards the final one, which is him lying down, apparently dying. The postures could represent various stages of his life, from birth to death. The basket, the vase and the urn could represent the aftermath of his passing (funeral and cremation to be more precise), as they appear after he is not seen again. The fact that the film begins and ends with the shot of the empty window could indicate that before and after life there is nothing.
Interestingly, the words that make up the title are separated, with 'Here Today' appearing at the start of the film and 'Gone Tomorrow' appearing just before the closing credits. By having 'Gone Tomorrow' at the end, the film seems to emphasise death, the passing of the character.
This is another short by Brocklehurst that deals with death and this one has an atmosphere that is quite haunting and it is beautifully shot and edited. A lot of praise goes to Nogin's score, without which the film would not have the powerful impact that it does.