Buried Credits, a column that deep dives into the IMDB pages of favorite actors, directors, and writers to find their lost, forgotten or unknown film and TV credits, continues this week with works featuring Aidan Gillen.
“Song” (2014 Short)
Directed and Written by Jamie Sives
One thing you learn early on, as an English major in college, is romantic poems can be creepy. Sure, there’s all that nature and nostalgia for a simpler way of living but there’s also a tendency for turning pretty trees into dead leaves. Mortality underlies many of these poems and a preference for the emotional, over objective, expression leads to a doozy of a stanza like this one, from William Blake’s, “Song.” Whether Blake actually meant for it to be read literally is debatable, but Jamie Sives does in his short film of the same name.
Dan (Gillen) and Jay (Darrell D’Silva) are in love with the same women but have accepted an agreement on how to move forward. Trading a coffin for the “winding-sheet,” Sives otherwise doesn’t stray from Blake’s narrative but, like the darkest of slapstick gags, where knowing what’s about to happen doesn’t take away from the impact of seeing it play out on screen, lets their cold follow-through leave you stunned. Reading the poem is no comparison because you can shrug “Song” off as exaggeration. When words become actions, they’re haunting.
Filmed in the woods, noticeable seconds are given to the camera lingering on the canopy of green leaves above. It’s a nod that feels true to the romantic tradition of “Song’s” source material but it also creates a nice clash, of bringing an 18th-19th century work into the modern age, with the characters continually checking their cell phones. The first beep has the camera hold on Gillen’s face, which D’Silva’s Jay can’t see. For the rest of the film Dan is sarcastic, answering “No,” to the question “Do you always have to have the last word?” but here, the expectation of what that message could say plays out in a string of emotions that are never again as public during future alarms.
Sives doesn’t stray from Blake’s narrative but he does add a few details and none more significant than having the story play out with two men, versus one. One man alone is tragic. Two men, where one is in the position of stopping the other from going through with the plan, but instead helps him, is chilling.
Overall: Buried Treasure
Absurd and uncompromising, “Song” is a film where its full power takes time to sink in. You can argue for or against the sentiment behind a poem like Blake’s, and as an expression of grief I can see why people would be drawn to it. Creepy and beautiful have never been mutually exclusive and this short proves that. But if you’ve ever sat through a lecture on romanticism and questioned the message being given by poems like Blake’s, where personal worth is measured by another’s love, Sives’ “Song” will be a vindication to your anxieties.
This short was on the heavy side but next week Kieran Fisher takes over with an actor who is bound to have some fun Buried Credits to his name. Be sure to check it out!