A Scribbled Memory [Bhulla Beghal, UK, 2018]

November 3, 2019

More often than not, animation is unfairly bundled with children’s entertainment. A Scribbled Memory kicks back against this stereotype by using animation to discuss traumatic memory and domestic abuse. Taken from a real radio interview, Bhulla Beghal’s short uses black lines, morphing shapes and muffled voices to successfully convey the long lasting damage caused by domestic violence.

 

What immediately jumps out about Beghal’s film is the total lack of colour. Black, grey and white spit across the screen as they become a mother, son, father and fist. This monochromatic palette is appropriate for the subject matter, and helps portray the man’s emotional coldness that has grown out of his childhood trauma. The image of a man flowing seamlessly into a fist was particularly effective at conveying this, as it shows how the violence is an inextricable part of the anonymous interviewee.

The visuals are complemented by the distorted radio recording. As the director mentions in his statement, the fuzz of the low quality audio is intentional. Odd as this may sound, this was a good decision. The aural distortion works in tandem with the jolting style of the animation to enhance the sense of blurred and traumatic memories. Moreover, it enhances the deeply unsettling atmosphere that pervades the entirety of this short film. Indeed, it must be noted that this film neither a pleasant nor a comfortable experience, and nor should it be.

 

A Scribbled Memory achieves what many short films attempt to do: it says an awful lot with awfully little. Using only black and white an authentic interview and one minute of the viewer’s time, Beghal manages to convey trauma and tragedy with the depth they deserve.

'A Scribbled Memory' was a film in consideration for Short Focus Film Festival 2019.

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