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text messages from the universe – dance , film and poetry combined


[usr 5]

“ You are not going to die . You are already dead”.

Haunting, disturbing and dreamlike this is a compelling film choreographed and directed by Richard James Allen and linked in with his splendid book of the same name (see my review for Sydney Arts Guide in January).

It is part of the Fantastic Film Festival Australia, screening 29 April at the Ritz Cinemas Randwick which will be an immersive gala screening event, where the poetic ‘text messages’ will be read live by author and director Richard James Allen to accompany the dance film.( Attendees will also receive a free copy of the book with their ticket, to immerse themselves in this multisensory experience).

TEXT MESSAGES FROM THE UNIVERSE is inspired by The Tibetan Book of the Dead, a text which guides souls on their forty nine day transmigration through the ‘Bardo’, or intermediate state, between dying and rebirth.  It also draws on the Yogic idea of the seven Chakras, or psychic energy centres, in visualizing this odyssey of movement, colour and consciousness.It questions the meaning of time and reality .It is a visual and verbal poem about life and death, blinking /not blinkinG,, waking and sleeping, up /down, the life cycle and rebirth – who are they? Where are they? Is what is happening real or a dream?

The film is divided into several sections or ‘days’ following the major incident – was the person in a car crash and the car flipped? Or? TEXT MESSAGES FROM THE UNIVERSE contemplates what a person might be able to think,hear and see  in a disjointed but smooth stream of  poetry, dramatic visuals, music and dance. Viewers of the film examine their personal interior world of hidden secrets, dreams and prognostication where the existence of ‘the comforting,consoling story of cause and effect‘ and time and space are shattered. Time is stopped, and ‘words become paintings, paintings become words‘.

Each of the various sections of the film have dancers in different colours (eg red, yellow, green, purple, aqua )..James Allen’s choreography includes backbends, stretcheS , twist , balances , poses like a model , swaying  and whirling turns , leaps , jumps and slithery floorwork. In Day 22 the dancer in green is filmed as if being caught through a camera lens and the dance has a Martha Graham feel to it. Then the dancer appears on huge stilts with arm poles and looks like a pulsating butterfly.

The photography by Gourav Ghandi is splendid, moody and dramatic. Why is the person in an obscure dingy alleyway? Or are they in hospital? There are startling flashes and ominous shadows and ‘the fellowship of silence’. Sometimes it is filmed as tightly vertical, sometimes close up, at times concentrating on the texture of the knots of the outfits the dancers wear  ( (costumes by Olivia Deur and Azure Susan Schofield), and  at other times we see details of the textured paving or floor, rusty chains and plastic piping, sometimes it is framed strikingly diagonally or uses a reflection.

The score by Ola Turkiewicz ripples, clicks, ticks, ebbs and flows, and at one point pounds with a repeated piano rhythm.

This mysterious, arresting film asks the question, ‘What if’ and ponders the meaning of the cycle of life, death and rebirth .

here’s the link to the event:

here’s the link to the book:

Running time – just over an hour 

Running time – just over an hour

here’s the link to the event:

here’s the link to the book:

Featured image : TMFTU-Photo-by-Gourav-Gandhi_Dancers_Kathryn-Puie_Richard-James-Allen_Jan-Bones-Gonscak_Copyright-(c)-2019-The-Physical-TV-Company



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