The sea rose invisibly beneath us and the moon shone smooth and bright. A glossy flute of light, like velvet down a bridal aisle, lit the marlin scales and the backs of whales migrating a hundred miles at sea. The tides surged through the marsh and each wave that hit the beach came light-struck and broad-shouldered, with all the raw power the moon could bestow. Magically, an hour passed and we, ocean dancers and tide challengers, found ourselves listening to the sea directly beneath us as the waves began to crash in earnest against the house.
She stretched her hands towards the sky. To grab all the stars, to hold the moon, to take away everything that the sky had. So that the sky could finally understand, how it feels to lose everything that makes it beautiful.
In that moment, the moon and the sun shared the sky. For all of eternity, the moon and sun have chased each other around the world. Long into the future, they will continue this chase, merging the days into months into years into centuries, until the day the sun cannot take the separation any longer and she shatters, engulfing the moon and everything else in a burst of light. Most will call it the day of final judgment. The end. To the sun and the moon, it will only be the beginning.
For the smallest of instants each day, they pause in this chase. They pause and look back at one another, smiling as if sharing a secret. Two lovers that can never exist as one, except in that single, brief instant.
There is pain and struggle in life that is universal. How can art help us to approach these things differently?
Brent Bonacorso has directed videos for Elton John (Home Again) and Katy Perry (Unconditionally) as well as numerous commercials. Technically stunning and innovative, as well as emotionally charged, his signature style is filled with striking images, bright and dreamy, set in imaginative narratives that sparkle with magic realism. He is able to use the absurd to get at truths that a more logical approach shies away from. His jaw-dropping short film West of the Moon is no exception.
Video via Brent Bonacorso on Vimeo
This film began as a documentary project. One hundred children were interviewed and asked to speak of their dreams. As Bonacorso worked through the interviews, he was moved to look inward and to create a film that would touch on universal themes and explore dreamscape as an alternate reality that coexists with our own. He used green screen technology to create this dreamscape and found a talented lead actor, veteran Jacob Witkin, to lend the right mix of humor and gravity to the piece. What resulted was West of the Moon, which, like most dreams, is rich with symbolism and understanding that “real life” doesn’t often exhibit.
I am particularly moved by the image of the heart. Our hero, or at least his alter ego, has been sent off to war and is wounded not by the enemy, but by a bullet from his own gun that circles the entire Earth and returns to pierce him. It is his own violence that destroys his heart, which his captors replace with a hand grenade. He tries to live softly and safely so that the fragile grenade will not explode, putting pillows under his feet on the stairs, soaking in his tub and shutting out the world. He is horrified when his grief at losing his lover causes him to cough up the pin to the grenade, and goes so far as to send his pet monkey, dubiously raised from a seed, in through his ear in a vain attempt to replace the pin. In the end it is not his own heart, but the heart of his lost love that he must heal. This involves risking his own life by allowing himself to feel again, which may make his heart explode.
None of this is logical, but we can relate to it emotionally by virtue of the dream images used. If we live long enough, we will all wound ourselves in life. We will experience time in which we harden our hearts to escape and override the pain and time in which we must allow that heart of stone to melt and beat again. The absurdist and childlike approach of West of the Moon helps coat the allegory, and by extension, our own experiences, with humor. It is a story that heals. Bravo!
West of the Moon
Winner of Best Short film @ Santa Barbara International Film Festival
Winner of Best Short film @ Aspen Shortsfest
Winner of Best Short film @ Rushes Soho Shorts Festival
Winner of Best Short film @ Carmel International Film Festival
Winner of Best Short film @ Florida International Film Festival.
Official Selection @ St. Louis Film Festival
Official Selection @ Palm Springs Film Festival
Official Selection @ Milwaukee International Film Festival
Official Selection @ Worldwide Short Film Festival
Official Selection @ Atlanta International Film Festival
Official Selection @ Gold Coast International Film Festival
Official Selection @ Maui International Film Festival
Official Selection @ LA Shortsfest
Starring Jacob Whitkin, Michael Garbe, Amber Noelle, Christopher Tomaselli, and Michael Galvin
Produced by Thom Fennessey
Cinematography by Tarin Anderson
Music by Devotchka
A Collaboration Factory production
Sometimes, when you’re deep in the countryside, you meet three girls, walking along the hill tracks in the dusk, spinning. They each have a spindle, and on to these they are spinning their wool, milk-white, like the moonlight. In fact, it is the moonlight, the moon itself, which is why they don’t carry a distaff. They’re not Fates, or anything terrible; they don’t affect the lives of men; all they have to do is to see that the world gets its hours of darkness, and they do this by spinning the moon down out of the sky. Night after night, you can see the moon getting less and less, the ball of light waning, while it grown on the spindles of the maidens. Then, at length, the moon is gone, and the world has darkness, and rest.
The moon does not fight. It attacks no one. It does not worry. It does not try to crush others. It keeps to its course, but by its very nature, it gently influences. What other body could pull an entire ocean from shore to shore? The moon is faithful to its nature and its power is never diminished.