Directed by Martin Gerigk | Reviewed by Tanusri Tarafder
What is a film all about? Storytelling, isn’t it? ‘Otonashi’, a film by Martin Gerigk is a notable illustration of this. Its simple and consequential storytelling beautifully conveys the story of an ancient culture towards its journey to modernism.
The film starts with a shot of Lord Buddha, the icon of spirituality and peace. It talks about the beginning of a new era as shown by the Buddha. The film’s narrative progresses slowly forward to portray one of the most debated topics of our civilization, the boons and banes of progress and development.
We all want progress in our society, right? It is only through development of science and understanding its most basic element, mathematics – that we get an idea of the inner workings of life. This is what ‘Otonashi’ is all about. The film shows us through graphical representation of the mathematical calculations, how the new and old are interconnected seamlessly.
It is quite tricky understanding the actual meaning that the director Martin Gerigk wants to convey through ‘Otonashi’. He has been presenting innovative ideas of filmmaking and celebrates representation of creative ideas through film in life. In ‘Otonashi’, he has drawn parallels with archetypal religious thinking to scientific measurements and geometrical shapes.
In the middle of the film, a prism appears on the screen with fragmented rays of light shooting out of it, and it is the same light that was seen at the top of Buddha’s head in the film’s opening shot. Similarly, there are numerous other parallels which replicate the innovative technologies of today. The film helps in explaining the reason behind the pre-existing concepts and illustrations of one of the oldest-modern religion – Buddhism and how they still hold up to scrutiny in the modern world. This weird amalgamation of perennial concepts seen and understood through time is what makes Buddhism one of the most fascinating religions to study and research.
Watching ‘Otonashi’, the viewers will easily get the essence of the scenes, the screenplay and most importantly the graphical representation of the director’s thinking process. It is simple story-telling as previously mentioned, with an excellent supporting instrumental audio background.
‘Otonashi’ would be a perfect choice for people who are curious to know about the next step in the evolution of humankind. Our entire timeline from the prehistoric era can be integrated to our modern way of thinking and thus, accepted as a guideline for our foray into the future. This way, we might have some idea of where we are heading towards. Will it be predominantly governed by science and technology or would we go back to a more spiritual way of life, or would it be a combination of both, as it has always been for us, in a completely holistic manner.
From every point-of-view in filmmaking, this film can surely be mentioned as an extraordinary work that provokes us to think about our collective future. ‘Otonashi’s’ simple visuals and a powerful sound design in form of chants and instrumentals leave a prominent signature on its viewers and hence, it is highly recommendable in every way.
Tanusri Tarafder is a Masters in Journalism and Mass Communication from Jadavpur University, Kolkata. She is enthusiastic about movies, photography and hosting live events. Tanusri is currently working as the Director of Kolkata United Cine Community where she is engaged in film preservation and archiving.