Ophelia among the flowers

Date: 2011
Posted by: Brian Kawimbe
Cast: Harriet Carter (Ophelia)
Credits: Directed by Csongor Dombovari. Produced by Pinja Tenhunen and Brian Kawimbe. Director of Photography Joel Honeywell. Camera operator Wei Kong. Focus puller Nikki Rosen. Gaffer/Grip Pano Kimbigelis. Sound Emma Hill. Edited by Lotti Jones and Laura Fegan. Production design Aimee Bick. Costume design by Danae Stamatiou and Holly Whitefoord. Make-up and Hair Lucie Snow.
Duration: 3.33

Here is a painting in motion. The camera pans slowly along twisted branches and fallen leaves while just off-screen a woman sings. The pan continues until it finds her muddied and scratched feet, then reveals a young woman in a stained white dress, lying among rocks and reeds, weaving a crown of twigs. The camera track further to her face, at which points we hear water starting to rush in. Gradually water begins to pour over her, her expression ranging back and forth from fear to delight. Fade to black as she breathes her last, the whole film just the single shot.

Unlike many Ophelia visualisations, this was not inspired by Millais but rather by painting “Ophelia among the Flowers” by Odilon Redon. The painterly quality lies not just in the inspiration and the lateral composition, but in the acute eye for detail, accentuated by sharp Super 16mm photography (we don’t get too many online videos which originated on film these days). This is cinematic, mysterious, a work to be read by what it make visible, not in words (there are none). It’s the sort of short film from which one can extrapolate a greater narrative, like an extract from an imagined feature film. A very professional piece of work.

Vimeo page
“Ophelia among the flowers” at the National Gallery