Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Charcoal : A Short Video

I saw this video a few years ago. It keeps coming back to me, like a song from the jukebox of my mind. In the video, a teenage girl walks out of her house in disgust as she sees her parents fighting. Sitting in a corner of the train station , she starts writing on herself in motions that are evocative of self mutilation. When the train comes, her forearms are thoroughly decorated with charcoal. In the next several minutes of the video, she has friendly interactions with various strangers she encounters in her travels. Each stranger leaves with a charcoal mark. At the end of the video, she sees another couple arguing and returns home.
The short film reminds me of a psychiatrist and philosopher named Viktor Frankl who was a concentration camp survivor. He made the observation that the last freedom a human being has is the freedom to decide how to react to and feel about what is happening to them. The main character in this short video was clearly hurt by the strife in her life, but decides to pass on kindness in her daily life. The charcoal serves as a metaphor for the contagious nature of human emotions It has an almost fable like quality to it. The musical background is very well chosen. I would like to see a lot more short films like this one The thirty and sixty minute programmes on mainstream TV just don't cover everything.

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