Darkus Buckerbergius [Schikhur, India, 2019]
Darkus Buckerbergius is more like a cinematic essay than a plot driven film. Faced with lethal accusations from the authoritative state, protagonist Darkus Buckerbergius must defend his controversial philosophies in order to save his growing revolution and his own life. As the two opposing characters debate, the film addresses contemporary issues about communication and social structures.
The link made between more advanced methods of communication and greater social equality strikes a chord with recent controversies surrounding politics and social media - even to the extent where the trial set-up could be a dramatic rendition of Mark Zuckerberg’s senate hearing in 2018.
While this topic is well worth spending time on, this film could have benefitted from a more nuanced argument. Buckerbergius gives a detailed report of the advantages of more enhanced communication technologies, but he doesn’t mention one single drawback. Given that, this year alone, terrorist attacks in New Zealand and the USA have been linked to white supremacist networks on social media sites, it seems woefully unbalanced to declare communication as an unfettered tool of altruism.
Following on from this, the two-dimensional dichotomy of good and bad feels naïve at best and divisive at worst. The state appointed judge’s onscreen presence is limited to a pair of executioner style black leather gloves - a rather too laboured embodiment of a faceless corporation. He appears only once in a fuller form wearing a giant Devil mask. In contrast, the prophetic philosopher sits robed in angelic white. Although the costume choices have clearly assigned symbolic roles here, the literal white/black divide gives a much too reductive account of good vs. evil. Moreover, thanks to poor sound quality throughout the film, much of the dialogue is lost to oscillating volume and the actors’ rushed delivery of the lines.
Darkus Buckerbergius is interesting to some extent in that it eschews a typical plot-driven narrative. Nonetheless, the drawbacks of an unsophisticated argument and poor production prevent Schikhur’s short film from success.
‘Darkus Buckerbergius’ was a film in consideration for Short Focus Film Festival 2019.