Short films matter. Vimeo wants you to know it. So do we. That’s why every week we’ll take a look at some of the short film world’s best and brightest. This week, we bring you Laura Scrivano’s elegiac T.S. Eliot adaptation A Lovesong.
The Plot: A listless man wanders the streets of a nameless city with only his thoughts to keep him company.
The Film: You’ve seen movies about poets. You’ve seen poetic movies. I’m betting you haven’t seen many movies adapted from a poem – at least one that isn’t based on an epic (Beowulf, Troy, et al). So you need to see A Lovesong.
Why Press Play?
Confession time, a few years back I was a huge fan of the Levi’s commercial that was built around Walt Whitman’s ‘Pioneers! O Pioneers!’. Laura Scrivano’s short film A Lovesong unfolds with the same sort of visual energy as that commercial. Only Scrivano and Co-Writer Daniel Henshall take a more focused look at the work that inspired their film. The work in question is ‘The Love Song Of J. Alfred Prufrock’ by T.S. Eliot. It was first published in 1915. It announced the relatively unknown Eliot as a major new talent. And it proved a forbearer of the Modernist movement that was taking hold of the poetry world.
For the uninitiated, Modernist poetry eschewed the formal trappings of the Victorians for a more ‘stream of consciousness’ approach. ‘The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock’ is told through the inner ramblings of a man overwhelmed by his own indecision and feelings of isolation. The poem stands as a dazzling statement to the disillusionment of the modern age. But that was 1915 modern. Scrivano and Henshall move Eliot’s ‘Love Song’ to present times. And, well, those themes of isolation and disillusionment still ring true.
So much in fact, that Scrivan and Henshall change nary a word from Eliot’s original text. The film follows a man (Henshall) as he wanders aimlessly through the dive bars and back alleys of a nameless city. Along the way, his inner monologue becomes a dense tapestry of anxious solitude. And that’s kind of it. Scrivano and Henshall rely on Eliot’s lavishly meandering language for much of the film’s emotional impact. Henshall proves himself more than capable of depicting the weight of those emotions. Scrivano and DP Ross Giordina build a complex visual language from the fluid nature of A Lovesong‘s source material. And Editor Josh Rathmell skillfully orders those images into something resembling a narrative.
Though A Lovesong is hardly a traditional narrative. There’s not really a beginning or middle or end to speak of. That’s the beauty of it. A Lovesong is a narrative film without a narrative. It’s more of a thought … or a feeling cobbled together from a series of seemingly random thoughts and feelings. That Scrivano and Henshall found a way to translate that visually is nothing short of miraculous. My only real complaint is that they couldn’t find room in their narrative for the poem in its entirety. I know, that kind of feels like nitpicking. But it’s a stunning piece of work. If you are interested in reading ‘The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock’ in full, click right here. But after you click play and experience A Lovesong for yourself.
Meet The Crew:
Directed by: Laura Scrivano Written by: Daniel Henshall & Laura Scrivano Adapted from the poem ‘The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock’ by: T.S. Eliot Starring: Daniel Henshall Director of Photography: Ross Giordina Edited by: Josh Rathmell Music by: Basil Hogios
I hope you enjoy A Lovesong! And I hope you’re taking note of Daniel Henshall, ’cause he’s an actor very much on the rise. Savvy viewers might recognize him from recent roles in The Snowtown Murders (2011) and The Babadook (2015). A Lovesong will only raise his profile. Same goes for Director Laura Scrivano. You probably don’t know her name. But you might want to learn it. I’ve got a hunch you’ll be hearing it in the future … hopefully in more short-form work from A Lovesong‘s production company The Passion Films. Until then, you can check out some of Scrivano’s prior work at her Vimeo page. While you’re there, be sure to check out a few of the thousands of other short films – animated, live action and documentary – the Vimeo team have made available for your viewing pleasure (via desktop or mobile device – SWEET!). You’re sure to find something interesting and you may just stumble across the next great filmmaker.