Once Within a Time, 2023.
Directed by Godfrey Reggio and Jon Kane.
Starring Aaron Kingsley Adetola, Sussan Deyhim, John Flax, Tara Khozein, Apollo Garcia Orellana, and Mike Tyson.
A dreamlike journey through an apocalyptic vision of the end of a world and the possible beginning of a new one.
If you’re looking for something completely different for a film viewing experience this would fit most people’s bills. Because Once Within a Time really is an experience.
Coming from the non-narrative powerhouse mind of Godfrey Reggio, famed for the so-called Quatsi trilogy of films that he created with the musical scoring of Philp Glass complementing powerful tales of human interactions with nature and the universe, this film is another spiritual song of finding direction and beauty in the chaos.
But where the Quatsi films (starting in 1982 with Koyaanisquatsi) made spectacular use of photographic elements and moving image of largely indigenous peoples (the name Quatsi comes from the Native American Hopi peoples’ word for ‘life’) Once Within a Time is more of a collage of lusciously detailed and originally created artworks.
The result is truly impressive. For just shy of an hour we’re taken on a hallucinatory trip of a dying world tainted by the falling apples of the tree of knowledge. The young and the innocent then offer a possible way to a new world. Or that’s what I made from it, anyway!
As with Reggio’s other films, there is no straight narrative, so the visuals and sequences unfold as they will.
Glass once again collaborates with Reggio to provide a scintillating musical score with additional vocals from Sussan Deyhim, who also appears as an inspiring dryad tree person figure in the film.
As well as Deyhim and the kids, there is also a manic looking opera singer who has a song that no one is able to understand. And then there’s Mike Tyson. Yes, that Mike Tyson, the ex-boxer, performing here as a kind of Pied Piper, motivating the young into a new world.
The film is scary, provocative, timely and gorgeous to look at. If there is a central point, and again, it’s all interpretive with such a solidly non-narrative force as Reggio, it’s that us humans still have a chance if the younger generation are trusted and guided to a new way of living. That’s if we somehow avoid the B-Movie style monsters and terrifying implications of technology gone wrong.
Once Within a Time opens in Los Angeles on Oct. 20 at Brain Dead Studios, with a national release to follow.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★
Robert W Monk