Film Review: The Troubled Troubadour

Forest Ian Etsler & Sébastien Simon | 23 menit | Prancis, Korea Selatan, Jepang | 2016 | PG

Story about death might be sounds terrifying, but Forest Ian Etsler and Sebastian Simon on The Troubled Troubadour (2015) refused to see death as something ”bodily”. They presented the death as a concept that is involving reconciliation process with memories about the pas, so then, death is not something horror, but more like a metaphor of the ending of a long process of human’s life.

Opening the film with the protagonist happiness, The Musician, finally can piddle in all of the ocean that is exist in the world, showing the audience what kind of journey he will take in this film. The journet that only can be done by humans that have finished their mundane desires. With his guitar and The Boatman who’s ready to row their boat on a railway, sometimes fooling aroud, sometimes giving advices, he then set off along south korea coastline. Their journey then being intercepted by some children who thinks that The Musician as The Mountain God, requiring him to meet with The Princess. Long story short, The Princess then realized that The Mucisian is not someone who she waited, instead helped him on continuing his Journey.

Armed by an advice from The Princess, The musician then set off to continue his journey. Where he faced a separation with his bestfriend, The Boatman, and had to pass The Great Posessed Tree. Brought him to face life-threatening memories, forced him to make peace with those memories so he can cross the tunnel and ended a long and tiring process, yet he enjoyed.

Forest and Simon who explored the treasures of South Korean Myth to discuss the problem in more relevant and contextual way, in line with Korean reality nowadays, make reading on this film becomes more interesting. A scene in the ending of the film as example, Forest and Simon did not picturing the end of the journey as something black and white. Through the character of The Death’s Agent with his black tuxedo, sitting with city background waiting for The Musician to come, they left so much texts that is open to be interpretated by anyone. However in this scene only, it will be so interesting if the audience do more digging into the character of The Death’s Agent by re-reading the notion of Marxis’ Philosopher, Henri Lefebvre.

In his book of The Production of Space, Lefebvre saw city as a spatial and social space, is because of the arena of battle of power that cannot be separated from capital interests. This battle then influenced the involved individual’s matters even in more personal area. The Death’s Agent character, regardless of the reality of the film that can be having multiple interpretation, could be seen as representation of the city and everything in it that is too capitalist, make him to offer nothing that death. The Death’s Agent depiction in this film was also can not be separated from The Musician character himself. Through the process of facing life-threatening memories uring his time in The Great Posessed Tree, this depiction felt too relevant with the trauma that he had experienced. It was because of The Musician constantly struggling with how social constuction in the reality of his life created the trauma. This circumstance then make us watch the death concept by The Musician in the form of The Death’s Agent and his attributes.

Theatrical approach that was choosen by Forest and Simon in this 23 minutes long film was addressed to provoke discussion between the audiences. This approach was also successful in building relation between The Musician and every details that exist in his journey, so then all of those details  did not appear with no reason. The relation between The Musician and his guitar as example, became so emotional when we realize that the guitar was actually the only artifact that left from past romantic memories, but it also became a reminder of the pain of his relationship with his father. Also, the dialogue between The Musician and The Boatman, with the duration only 23 minutes long, the dialogue between both party has succeeded to build an interesting relation with comedy gesture and how both of them faced by the fact of separation.

Seems like Forest and Simon didn’t want this film alienating the audio-visual text aesthetic that they presented by showing about people and its dinamics, brought them in more relevant and constextual area. Through the multiple interpretation texts that was created by naration, act, dialogue, picture-point of view, audio, up to small details like costume make this film not really a pure artwork. Something important that had been done as an effort in order to making artwork becomes a sacred myth, so that opens up possiblities to be read, making it alive and staying close by its audiences.


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