May 17, 2008

Dead Leaves

Dead Leaves (1998) is one of the few films from the east coast that actually captures the drowsy and depressing atmosphere so prevalent from eastern city to city. The film follows a lonely young man as he takes his dead girlfriend on a tour of various eastern coast locations as he makes his way from New York City to West Virginia. The young man doesn’t say much and his dead girlfriend only talks when the man has haunting (yet loving) memories of her. It is important to be respectable when in the presence of a dead loved one.

German born director Constantin Werner ultimately tells a somber tale of love and death. Dead Leaves is a film appropriately narrated by the tragically dark poems of Baltimore poet Edgar Allen Poe. The poetry of Poe was also able to capture the dispiriting nature of the east coast. Whether it be a cold and wet winter or the deadness of the fall, the east coast is the appropriate place to tell a melancholy tale. When I think of the falls I spent growing up on the east coast I think of Dead Leaves.

Dead Leaves begins with the emotionally desolate and follows progressively towards heavy-hearted spiritual enlightenment. The film is an art house film for those individuals that have accepted the inevitable end. A time where a love lost and a life lost parallel one another. The protagonist in Dead Leaves knows his time is steadily approaching its conclusion. Dead Leaves is one of few films that captures this growing feeling of despair.

Music by Rozz Williams (of Christian Death) and Gitane Demone compliment the overall hopeless mood of Dead Leaves. It is important for a film like Dead Leaves to have a similar auditory feeling to the overall visuals of the film. Dead Leaves is a film that works in its mood and progressively builds upon that mood. The American east coast is truly a fairly ugly and somberly atmospheric place. Dead Leaves is the ultimate tour guide on a road trip of the place that I call home.

-Ty E

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