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The Holistic (2013)

By Robert Kenneth Dator.

“I’ve never been comfortable with the idea of an afterlife.”

The Holistic is a film short that stays long in one’s memory.

I cannot count how many films I’ve seen devoted to life-after-death, but I can’t recall a single one that presented the idea that some of us are not comfortable with the notion of “life everlasting”; and that the inability to either take that concept on faith or to imagine such an eternal existence renders those of us with this similar view very quiet indeed.

Now, mind you: all of this is the product of my own musing on the topic for in reality the unseen participants express these ideas, but in simple, everyday terms. It is the aggregate of these said points of view, which renders The Holistic profoundly ponderable.

Director Jacob Mertens uses subtle images, appealing for the soft focus hand-colored effect that presents them rather as memories.  Nothing is quite distinct, and that which is recognizable — leaves, water, a garden — yet retain an uncanny kind of universal appeal while appearing, feeling, as though they are the product of someone else’s mind: the viewer is not so much being taken into the screen, as remaining outside, witnessing shadows. The viewer is voyeur, and the subject is home movies taken by strangers. But, don’t we all know what a birthday party looks like; a fountain; swimming underwater, the play of dappled light through the trees? Perhaps, but these images don’t look so much photographed as projected from the subconscious. And the voice-overs of documentary women and men making the observation, as one voice puts it: “I’ve never been comfortable with the idea of an afterlife.” No one in The Holistic is, and that’s a relief; to be unburdened by the weight of heaven… to be allowed to remember… as though our passing will constitute the whole of our loves and life’s experience poured out as dreams into a collective well of consciousness from which we may all endlessly dip… Hyperbole? Watch for yourself; drink deep—aye, there’s the rub, for The Holistic will make the film festival circuit alone for now, which is a bit awkward since one wants to review that which the general populace can see; however, The Holistic is worth a scouting expedition.

My only hard criticism regards the use of “nothing,” black screen spaces that, along with varicolored, hand-stained leaders, seem like obvious place-holders in which as yet determined scenes will one day reside. Of course, this may be the effect of watching a screener on a computer: a few seconds are an eternity on the small screen.

…then again, maybe that’s the point?

Actor, writer and director, Robert Kenneth Dator, worked in feature film and television in the United States and Australia. Bob is at work on The Camera as Entity; teaches Film Literacy, Literature and Drama at Oak Ridge Military Academy. He lives and writes in Greensboro, North Carolina, where he attends graduate school.

Film Details

The Holistic (2012)

United States

Director Jacob Mertens

Producer Michelle Byron

Runtime 14 minutes

Film Festival Distribution

Sound Mix Stereo

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