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Commentaries on this Media!

Extended Commentary (Sunshine Makers)

by Robin Killian

A crescent moon floats over waves in the ocean. Played beneath the words "Then I can dream," this clip has been transformed to suggest an intercepted dream, or perhaps one coated in static to the extent that it’s hidden from the dreamer by utilizing a time interpolation effect and speed. The implication is that the ability to dream still exists, but due to the pains of life and being separated from his family (his owner is dumping him at a shelter) he is unable to at present. Trees loom overhead and obscure a bright blue sky with blackness through silhouettes. As his impending fate of being dumped at the shelter becomes more clear, the dog begins to experience heightened fear. Imprisonment in the shelter is parallel to the trees becoming more and more like a prison, covering him in mass until it is very difficult to see the clear and blue sky. The black looming silhouettes also allude to blindness. Car grill and headlights skate across the screen illegibly. The dog begins to sense the direction the drive is taking. Anxiety begins to build, and the car grill reinforces the sense of place in addition to referencing the lines of a prison/shelter/jail cell. The lines foreshadow the action that is to come (the imprisonment of the being). A bird soars in a tight shot in a cloudy, dark sky. Immediately following the clip of the dog staring out the window comes this clip of a bird soaring high in the clouds. This clip “punches in” or focuses on the action that the dog sees out the window and isolates: that of a bird soaring in freedom. This serves as a juxtaposition with what follows: sound illustrating being locked in a “cell” in an animal shelter. The bird not only illustrates the longing for freedom, but also the nature of a dog. Focusing on another animal is a natural instinct to a dog. A bird that the human didn’t notice is the center of the dog’s attention. Driving along the road at a rapid speed, we see out the window from first person inside POV. This portion of the film illustrates the drive from Snoopy’s home to the shelter. Although the dog cannot anticipate what will happen following the drive, he gazes out the window (shot FPI). The use of first person inside shifts the point of view from the dog to the viewer. This strategy connects the viewer to the experience of the dog by putting him/her in the animal’s position in the back seat. Gazing out of a window on a drive is a universal experience. Rain drips down a window. Rain references the inner state of the dog: melting, falling apart, emotional, uncomfortable. Layering this clip over a moving landscape creates the effect of looking out a window while it is raining. A man’s silhouette is shown in the driver’s seat of a vehicle. This clip serves as an illustration of the owner through the eyes of a blind dog. Although the dog cannot see his owner, he knows him so well as to be able to outline his shape in his darkness. The silhouette refers to the dog’s blindness and enables the audience to further connect to the dog’s plight and abandonment. The owner becomes “faceless” so as to become any one of us. A red sky. The flash of red appears only momentarily in the film. It creates the feeling of an accident, referring to chaos and blood. It is utilized to conjure up dread and add to the suspense of knowing what may potentially happen to the dog. This bright red flash is an abstraction of the dog being hit by the car. Sun Sets. The sun sets, illustrating the end of this chapter in the dog’s life and the narrative. A road unfolds in front of the audience, driving along a winding road in the night. Winston was hit by a car. The twists and turns of the road illustrate the treacherous and unmapped situations before him. By repeating footage of a road ahead, the footage adds to the suspense by hinting at viewers that an accident is coming. A wheel spins. The wheel reminds us that everything continues regardless of the circumstances. Life continues the move forward at a speed that feels fast for many of us. We cannot stop the wheel in an instant. When difficulties arise, sometimes “collisions” happen. This doesn’t mean that we can’t experience beauty or enjoy life! The same applies to Winston: the car is inevitably going to hit him. The car is driving fast enough that there won’t be time to correct the mistake. There’s nothing Winston can do in the moment; however, he is able to choose joy and calm in his future. An iris gazes unwaveringly at the audience. The audience is confronted with an open eye. It’s unblinking and unwavering in its gaze. For the first time, the audience must acknowledge their own sight and establish an awareness of the gift of sight. This gift is one that may be swiftly taken away. In Winston’s case, his sight was taken from him in a single moment. Cultivating an appreciation for the beauty of vision and the eye (often taken for granted) is the intention of the clip. A road unfolds in front of the audience. This clip shows a road unfolding in a staccato-like fashion. By applying a time interpolation effect and changing the speed of the clip, the accident and the moments leading up to it are illustrated in a clear yet non graphic way. Cutting to blackness immediately after the clip rather than showing the aftermath of the accident implies the onset of blindness, which is more overwhelming to the dog than the accident itself. The clip is first person inside, keeping us connected to the mind of the dog.

The Sunshine Makers

About the creators of the psychedelic "Orange Sunshine" LSD.

from The Sunshine Makers (2015)
Creator: Cosmo Feilding-Mellen
Distributor: Netflix, iTunes, Vudu
Posted by Robin Killian