SHORT FILM REVIEW: Endless Waltz
“ENDLESS WALTZ”-- 5 STARS
People will speak with dueling dichotomy and similarity that nothing is more simple, and yet more complicated, than life and death. The plainness comes in the inevitability of the outcome no matter the the journey, while the complexity lies in the individual beauty of each life’s path. In a symphonic microcosm of eight minutes, the short film “Endless Waltz” paints its portrait of beauty giving way to finality with utter perfection.
Without dialogue, “Endless Waltz” guides you on a journey that may appear simple in scope, but speaks volumes in symbolism. On a serene ocean beach at sunrise, the embodiment of Life (Naomi Hughes-Hall) sees her consort, Death (Ken Godmere), across the sand and surf. She offers him a gift in the form of an infant (Nicole Norikowa) child. A young girl emerges from the swaddle and begins to dance through her course in life. With every sway, twirl, pirouette, and groove, stages of life transition as the girl dressed in white ages into a more and more mature woman (characterized by five actresses: Sahara Forest, Zoe Law, Sarah Bryn Malladaine, Mona Hassanien, and Shelley Janze). The spritely vigor of the dance may decline, but the grace never does as the woman steps closer to looking Death, and his embrace, in the eye.
The measurement or interpretation of life and death is different for everyone. Filmmaker Zachary Richardson wrote and approached this project with heightened metaphors to address the aforementioned simplicity and complexity. The straightforward distance between two points is filled with an evolving fountain of energy representing the emotive high points and struggles taking place in between. Such, is life, and this is one literal and figurative dance through it.
As stated on this website before, short films have the challenging artistic task of creating resonance in a short amount of time, where nuance replaces sprawl. Richardson opens these perceptions by pouring vivid elegance into every layer of “Endless Waltz.” Choreographer Victoria Raskin created divine movements for this interpretive frolic and emerging composer Vaughn Lowell Swenson set them to a sublime piano performance of his composition “Infinito non Finito.” Capturing the angles and turns on camera, director of photography Luis Miguel Villarreal absorbed gorgeous raw imagery while editor Kevin Lee Graham smoothly blended every transition between actress portrayals.
Filmed in the rocky Crescent Beach area near the Surrey and Richmond communities outside of Vancouver in British Columbia, the strata of natural beauty makes the surreal analogies fit together like they were made for each other. “Endless Waltz” boasts an equally effective companion piece in the form of a documentary short entitled “Looking Death in the Eye.” Directed by 12-year-old Erika Forest, the making-of piece chronicled the process of creating an emotional core by filming the many performers sharing their mindsets and personal interpretations of the themes that formed their performances.
In superior ways to many feature films over ten times its length, “Endless Waltz” seizes your emotions and evokes your reflection. That’s a tall order to do in eight minutes and it succeeds. You’ll be captivated by the second minute, let alone the six that follow.
LESSON #1: EVERYONE DECIPHERS DEATH DIFFERENTLY-- What is morbid to one person is beautiful to another. A person’s comfort level on the idea of death (and what happens to life at that point) will inform their feelings on this short film. Some will focus on the looming darkness while others will appreciate the jubilant and eternal flourishes that defined the individual.
LESSON #2: LIFE IS SHORT-- Science will tell you we are a blip or a speck on the radar screen compared to the vast cosmic timeline. Everyone measures life differently, but no matter the ruler, life is short. Fast or slow, there’s no going back. Enjoy your time to dance.
LESSON #3: LIFE IS A GIFT-- Because of the uncertainty of death and the precious limitations of time, the life you lead on this earth is a gift. In good times or in bad, your experience is unique and special. Tackle its potency. Approach it with endurance. Live it with zest and you will get the most out of this gift.