RECOMMENDED AS WEIRD: EDEN LOG (2007)

DIRECTED BY:  Franck Vestiel

FEATURING:  Clovis Comillca, Vimala Pons, Zohar Wexleser

PLOT: A man named Tolbiac (Cornillac) awakens with amnesia alongside rotting corpses

Still from Eden Log

in a high-tech underground wasteland.  He must find his way out of a massive labyrinth deep within the earth.  To do so he has to collect and assimilate data and unravel clues to the bizarre circumstances in which he finds himself.

WHY IT SHOULD MAKE THE LIST:  Shot entirely indoors in an underground setting, this unusual science fiction film blurs the line between supposed reality and apparent fantasy.  Told visually, with minimal dialogue, the viewer is disoriented by the bizarre circumstances and setting.  One must see through the protagonist’s eyes to decipher his otherworldly experience.  The challenge is heightened by the fact that he has no memory and his world seems just as alien to him as it does to us.

COMMENTS: Eden Log is told mainly with pictures.  It is set in the near future.  There is refreshingly little exposition.  There are no long and grandiose on-screen paragraphs or narration at the inception telling about a land far, far away in a time long ago.  As a result, the story is a bit murky.

The viewer must piece the action together from the protagonist’s experiences, which unfold from his point of view.  The meaning of some events is not clearly delineated, and the beholder must learn how to interpret them.  One must suspend disbelief to accept certain aspects of the plot, and one is never sure until the end how to understand some of Tolbiac’s impressions and experiences.  It is, at first, hard to tell what is real and what is fantasy.

Tolbiac starts out at the bottom of a ruined, high-tech subterranean maze in pool of muddy water among dead bodies.  He must quickly assimilate himself to his dark, cold, wet environment by scavenging clothing and equipment from a plethora of cadavers.  As he does so he gradually begins to make his ascent through the hellish terrain.  He encounters some frightening characters and a sequence of bizarre threats as he unravels his way through this post-apocalyptic tangle.

Along the route he collects and tries to translate odd clues.  Gaining insight into his plight is his best chance for planning each succeeding step.  Tolbiac must dodge savage humanoids and Orwellian storm troopers, who may be hunting him, while he tries to decipher mysterious technology.

Tobiac finds cryptic suggesting that a totalitarian elite controls the depths and the workers who once inhabited them.  Promising sanctuary in return for “sacrifice,” there seems to have been a program in place to reward the troglodytes with acceptance into a Utopian society on the surface. He finds a departure depot from which the workers would leave, ascending in illuminated cubes.  Strange, speaking holograms of people guide him and advise him, but they are sinister and their presentation is suspicious.

Tolbiac soon digs up other holographic data elsewhere indicating the the workers who ascended were never heard from again.  What became of them?  Will he share their fate, or find a way to navigate the strange and terrible gauntlet obstructing his escape?  And what of the gargantuan and possibly carnivorous root structure that ubiquitously pervades every level of the complex?

Tolbiac’s only hope seems to be gaining the acceptance of a sole surviving technician who once worked in the maze, and who is now clinging to survival herself.  After she captures Tolbiac, she uses him as a diversion to save herself and abandons him.  He must find her again and win her trust.  But how?

WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:

“…a long way from the space opera of Star Wars, but those who like a more transcendental brand of SF (think 2001: A Space Odyssey, Solaris or The Fountain) will find themselves on familiar ground… suffers from the combined effect of a slow pace and a highly elliptical narrative… Stick with it, though, and you are in for a dark treat…”–Anton Bitel, Eye for Film (DVD)

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