Thursday, 1 April 2010
Hayley Morris "Undone" (2008)
Undone is a striking example of stop motion as well as poignant tribute to John Ronald O’Brien, the late grandfather of director Hayley Morris. John died of Alzheimer’s disease. The film commences with a ball of string that unfurls to reveal an old man adrift on the ocean fishing from a tiny boat, drawing in a series of objects that represents his memories. A trombone, family pictures embedded in a revolving figure on children’s building blocks, a blossom tree held lovingly until the flowers wither in his hands. Mementos are momentarily treasured then lost to the amorphous string that writhes up and stifles object and, ultimately, person. A soundtrack of whispered voices, half remembered, stifled, reverberating sounds submerge us in John’s world. Undone is vividly staged, with rippling material for sea and a tenderly sculptured puppet of the old man, all the more fine when the camera zooms in and a fragile face is revealed, the whole illuminated by subtle lighting. The string enveloping the man is a telling metaphor for the ravages of a horrible disease. A small thing perhaps but I did like the closing credits being so simply chalked on a board. The film was made in 2008 at Rhode Island School of Design. My grandfather was similarly afflicted and I wish I had had the talent and wit to commemorate him in this way.