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Echo [Galina Altman, Russia, 2018]

Capturing the transient nature of life in all of its tragic beauty, and doing so within one 60-second shot is an ambitious feat to say the least. Echo, directed by Galina Altman, is at least partially successful. The construction of scenery is admirable; a white statue of the eponymous, winged god atop a piano takes centre-frame, whilst a vase of pink flowers to its left loses its petals, these combined elements working in a way to lend a transient texture to a work that ultimately expresses a tendency towards an art installation piece intended for a long and hypnotic loop. The idea aims for a type of visual poetry and calls to mind the infamous ‘plastic-bag-in-the-wind’ scene from American Beauty (Sam Mendes, US, 1999).

The soundtrack gears on the side of romantic, the tinkling piano melody working well to underscore the image of sunlight bursting through a multitude of layered objects to create an extreme juxtaposition of light and shadow. The short film is apparently inspired by the filmmaker’s own music, proving her to be somewhat of a polymath.

The low-grade resolution of the picture, conversely, lends it an experimental and dreamlike quality, approaching (even if perhaps not consciously) something almost Warholian. The film, as abrupt in its conception as in its departure, thus successfully sets out to achieve in practice what it ultimately wishes to intimate philosophically, even if in the end the piece feels incidental.

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