Elusion Review Part 1

imageElusion is the title of a flatland film from April Third Studios, a boutique-size film studio that was co-founded by Tex Thayer. Due for imminent release, Elusion has already been screened at seven premiere film, art and industry events in the States including InterBike 2007. It will also be screened in Canada for the first time at the Hang 20 Art exhibition on the 8th March (see poster). Its intended audience includes riders and non-riders alike; such is its overall appeal. What it offers is a glimpse of flatland, edited and presented very stylishly and with painstaking attention to detail.

What sets Elusion apart is the attention lavished on every element of its production. For example, a steadicam was used to shoot many of the sequences, something more commonly associated with multi-million dollar blockbusters like Star Wars. Imagine watching one of your favourite riders while floating on a cushion of air, and you might be able to grasp what the effect looks like in the film. The fluidity of the camera movement across each frame often reminds you of how it feels to be watching flatland for real; when for a few moments you are completely absorbed and track the riders every movement and expression, looking for clues…its very compelling to watch and testament to the amount of thought and effort put in by its director.

The level of detail extends all the way from the titling and credits to the music, and of course the riding sequences. The first few minutes of the film reminded me of the atmosphere generated by David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive, which was shot in a similar way; images of suburban America, bungalows, empty streets and at times, melancholy. Camera work is focused on a single rider all the time, and during each sequence there is only one rider in view. In fact, throughout the whole film there is no second rider or any other audience in sight, coupled with the atmospheric and imagemoody soundtrack makes it quite unique for this genre of film. The whole film conveys a strong sense of the bond that exists between a rider and his or her bike. The skills and tricks performed by the riders serve almost as a background to the emotions you experience as a rider. The film seems to be showing the mental/emotional side of flatland as opposed to the skills or technique, which is usually the focus in flatland movies. For this reason it will be particularly appealing to experienced flatlanders who will immediately engage with each rider’s silent dialogue.

Elusion is accompanied by a soundtrack influenced and composed specifically for it by Matilda. The music score is in-part responsible for the tension that builds the moment the movie begins, and remains an integral feature of it right to the end. It adds a cinematic texture to the project and really binds everything together, the riding, the environments and the overall mood. It’s very different to traditional BMX soundtracks, quite complex in terms of the arrangements and instruments used, low-tempo and yet vibrant and dynamic enough to compliment the visual rhythm of the picture.

What the director has somehow managed to do is distill the essence of flatland, capture it on film, commission an excellent soundtrack and present it in a very artistic and moving way. It fully deserves any plaudits offered by flatlanders and non-flatlanders alike for its vision and execution, and may become a reference tool much like the book Subway Arts has for writers.


2008-03-02 - Carl