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Apocalypse Notes [Pierre Gaffié, France, 2020]

The post-apocalyptic sub-genre in film has been popular among various audiences going back to the earliest days of cinema. They tend to follow a similar narrative, where Earth's civilisation is on the verge of, or has already collapsed. The subsequent dystopia is usually caused by climactic and nuclear disasters, or resource depletion. However, in his short film, director Pierre Gaffié initiates a discussion around an entirely different issue. He asks: "what would happen if, like polar bears, music was about to disappear?" The answer to this question is more complex than it may seem.

Apocalypse Notes (with its tagline “music is in danger!”) is an 8-minute French philosophical film about a world on the verge of musical apocalypse. It follows a young and passionate musician Thomas, who tells his fiancé, art student Jeanne, about what he has recently learned. He confesses that music is over as there are only 34,000 melodies that have not been composed yet. Ambitious artists determined to create great things, Thomas and Jeanne struggle to comprehend what this news means to them. The characters complain that people have been wasting music for centuries, using it to earn a living rather than as an art form.

What is interesting is that music is not only the main subject of this short, but it also takes on the role of a kind of supporting character, pushing the narrative along. Consistently present in the background, it does become a somewhat irritating distraction. Gaffié's choice of music to underscore drama is rather unusual. It has an almost jingle-like sound to it, which doesn’t always match what is happening onscreen. It is especially conspicuous in the scene where Thomas begins telling Jeanne about his discovery. In retrospect, it seems that the film might have benefitted from completely removing the music and allowing its audience to focus on the dialogue.

Overall, Apocalypse Notes is a technically well-made film that will undoubtedly leave its audience wondering whether there is a point in creating anything if originality is unattainable.


'Apocalypse Notes' was a film in consideration for Short Focus Film Festival 2021.

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