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A Spell to Ward Off the Darkness2013

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  • 3.5
A SPELL TO WARD OFF THE DARKNESS follows an unnamed character through three seemingly disparate moments in his life. With little explanation, we join him in the midst of a fifteen-person collective on a small Estonian island; in isolation in the majestic wilderness of Northern Finland; and during a concert as the singer and guitarist of a black metal band in Norway. Marked by loneliness, ecstatic beauty and an optimism of the darkest sort. Starring musician Robert Lowe (best known for his intense live performances under the name Lichens) in the lead role, A SPELL TO WARD OFF THE DARKNESS lies somewhere between fiction and non-fiction, it is at once a document of experience and an experience itself, an inquiry into transcendence that sees the cinema as a site for transformation.

Distributor

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"...a consistently stimulating work of genuine existential import, creating a distinctive poetry out of man's search for identity." - Kenji Fujishima, In Review Online


3 members like this review

This might be the first time I was ever disappointed at how much male nudity there was on screen. Also, I don't think I've ever been so uninterested in hearing dudes talk about having their finger in someone's asshole.

What's happening to me???

Anyway, I wish the entirety of A Spell to Ward Off the Darkness was just shots of nature and locations and Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe and black metal because that first act (after a perfect opening shot) was a struggle to get through, but once it lands, it fucking lands.

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top reviewer
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Member Reviews (10)

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top reviewer

This might be the first time I was ever disappointed at how much male nudity there was on screen. Also, I don't think I've ever been so uninterested in hearing dudes talk about having their finger in someone's asshole.

What's happening to me???

Anyway, I wish the entirety of A Spell to Ward Off the Darkness was just shots of nature and locations and Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe and black metal because that first act (after a perfect opening shot) was a struggle to get through, but once it lands, it fucking lands.

3 members like this review

I totally agree with Juan B. Thankfully the opening intro was so beautiful I decided to give it a chance even after the group communal conversation scenes wore on me. Once he takes off on his own the movie comes back, and I'm glad I stuck with it.

1 member likes this review

What can i say.. I liked it!

1 member likes this review
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filmmaker

Frustrating beyond belief.

In terms of tonality this reminded me of "Butter On The Latch" another meandering mediation on self-centered neo-hippies attempting to find themselves or find something in the middle of nowhere for reasons known only to themselves. If only it was as good as its synopsis suggests - now that's the film I wanted to see.

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top reviewer

This film does not have much of way of plot and structure and sense. Of course I do like a film without any of these attributes as much as the next person, but if feels like there are more and more of these commune/nature/no dialogue/meandering toward oblivion films popping up these days. After awhile, they become boring. The best part about this film for me is realizing that Taraka and Nimai Larson are both in this, the sisters that make up the band Prince Rama. Quite honestly, my suggestion is skip this film and watched their videos instead.

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top reviewer

*yawn* Curiously-titled but corporate-canned self-indulgence. When it appears, the landscapes are quite nice but they're never seriously explored, just taken for granted. What interests the filmmaker seems to be the struggles of adult-children with words and naive unoriginal ideas. I suspect the wish is to to project the notion that no political activity has occurred in the first world in the last 40 years because hippies have replaced bohemians. Which only makes the thing seem a time capsule from a crash pad full of dull alcoholics. But then the music plays, the amber shatters and we realize this is a 21st century post-metal culture, still stuck in the 1960's 'free expression for all' anti-intellectualism. The problem here is, few people really take chances with their lives, and fewer still know bow to tell an interesting stories, and then of those who can write a original script? Vanishingly rare.

To me this is not the basis of cinema- it's recording- home video with delusions of art.

A needed spiritual exploration of contemporary sub-culture. A reflection of the dark side of our creative conscience. A search for a medium.

A SPELL TO WARD OFF THE DARKNESS illustrates three different iterations for self expression: within a commune, in forest solitude, and finally in a black metal concert. It seems that viewer's favorite section of the film is more telling of his perspective than the film itself--some are to find pleasure in disappearing into the community (like our main character) while another will find her truest self rowing a boat alone. There's a deep poetry at work here and an earnest investigation into the ways in which we attempt to fulfill ourselves and create a sense of self. The film's most innovative and fascinating choice happens when our main character unleashes screams during the black metal concert. It's a powerful, cathartic, and incredibly present filmmaking. It captures the experience of both playing and listening to a live performance in a way that I haven't quite seen on film

But even this catharsis cannot last, as our character walks away silently, faceless into the dark night.

Our lives are filled with such attempts and this man's journey is one in which we can both participate in and project our own.

Started out strong but couldn't keep up the momentum of the commune.