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Scrap Vessel2009

  • 3.4
After more than three decades of service, a decommissioned coal transport ship makes one last crossing of the Indian Ocean. Empty of cargo and carrying only a small crew, she rides high on the blue-green waters to the industrial boneyards of Bangladesh where her carcass will be dismantled and salvaged for scrap. Jason Byrne’s documentary eulogizes Hupohai's final voyage with vertiginous angles of roiling seas, soft-focus shots of the mighty vessel's gleaming decks and shadowy innards (and a subtle mix of haunting music and ambient sounds). Brief encounters with crews, current and past, humanize the event, with found snapshots and film clips of Chinese melodramas used to entertain during long voyages. At the Ali Rerolling Plant, the boat is reincarnated as glowing rods of white-hot steel skidding to life like newborn cobras on black glass. Shunning the flat, crystalline aesthetics of high-definition capture, Byrne opts for the opaque grain and saturated color palate of 16mm film, returning mystery to a genre usually tasked with transparency. - Shari Kizirian

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Member Reviews (1)

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top reviewer

"Scrap Vessel" reminds me of going to a wake for a stranger. You know that at the end the coal ship is making it's final voyage to be disassembled, but during this voyage, the crew goes through the ship, searching for and finding artifacts of a life that it once led. Seeing the pictures of old crew and movies that the crew watched makes you a little sad for the vessel, knowing that this is to be the last time it is on water, sailing through the rolling waves.