Consumed by memories, Anna gazes blankly over the edge of a cliff. Memories rush through her head, speeding away just like the vehicle in the accident. She remembers her son’s stuffed bunny lying lifelessly on the asphalt road, covered with smears of dirt and waiting for the boy’s return.
“Into the Plains,” a short film produced by Chandler Ryd ’18, seeks to show the struggle and complexities of losing a loved one. Its cinematography creates a thought-provoking and interactive experience for the audience.
The film follows Anna, a young mother grieving over her son’s death. Desperately seeking to cope with the pain, she abandons her husband and sets out on a scenic road trip through Colorado Springs. She constantly wallows in her thoughts and ignores her husband Jeremy’s concerned texts of her whereabouts. Through her solitary journey, Anna learns that grief should lead us to, not away from, loved ones.
The lack of dialogue, use of sound effects, and subdued lighting connect with Anna’s heartache and distress. The dim lighting creates a somber mood to represent the heavy subject matter, and lighting changes based on the mood of the scene. In the present, Anna is alone and stares lifelessly at her reflection in gray, subdued lighting. In the past, she brushes her teeth and interacts with Jeremy in orange, bright lighting, representing the joy she felt while pregnant. The past is more real and vibrant to her than the dull present.
The sound effects and limited dialogue allow the audience members to participate in the film, in a sense, with their own predictions and thoughts. In a scene of intense emotion and panic, Anna’s memories are shown in a fast, varying sequence filled with loud, clamorous sounds of ambulance sirens, police interrogations, and speeding cars. This reflects how emotionally suffocated she is, evoking a claustrophobic feeling. Engaging the audience, it becomes a personalized experience, helping the viewer understand Anna’s situation better.
The limited dialogue gives us insight as to what Anna is thinking or feeling. Throughout the majority of her roadtrip, Anna doesn’t talk and is alone with her thoughts. She made the decision to escape her grief alone, which is emphasized when she ignores Jeremy’s texts, “Let me in.” Her mental isolation causes her to physically isolate herself and dwell in the pain alone. Although she is alone in the film, the audience is experiencing the whole journey with her, raising the question: Is dwelling in grief alone the best way to overcome it?
What makes this film unique is its ability to make the audience empathize with Anna’s emotions, specifically sadness. These cinematography effects help the audience subconsciously form a relationship with Anna, creating an individualized experience for viewers and making the film more beautiful to them through personal understanding. The film can cause viewers to look back at similar experiences of grief and bring a greater knowledge to the word itself. As Anna seeks to find healing alone, the audience joins her in learning that maybe it’s best to seek healing alongside loved ones.