Marcel The Shell With Shoes On: The Space We Occupy

Some thoughts on this film partly inspired by this Podcast conversation

First, this is a perfect example of the kind of film you might not think requires the big screen experience, but if you have the chance i would say absolutely engage it in that setting, not only because it deserves and needs your support but because it’s built on a very intentional use of size, space and setting that cannot be fully appreciated (or understood) on the small screen.

Second, the use of size, space and setting becomes a way of building the films themes in a surprisingly emotional way, something the above Podcast helped to give words for. The film is both about loneliness and togetherness. Isolation and community. On the first front we get a series of scenes fleshing out how loneliness breeds fear in Marcels life, although this isn’t made immediately clear. The way he sees the world is with a contemplative and compassionate spirit that desires to see the best in things and in others. And yet what remains uncertain is his own expectation of himself.

There are a couple key sequences that help bridge the loneliness with this sense of togetherness or connection. One significant one is when Marcel is given a chance to see beyond the confines of his home. He is taken for a car ride where he is able to see the city from the top of the hill. It’s a scene that uses his smallness to contrast the bigness, at once exposing his smallness in relationship to his surroundings but also opening him up to the vastness of the world that does surround him. This scene operates in dialogue with an earlier one where he posts a video and watches it go viral. In this scene he seems big in relationship to the computer screen, inviting him to wonder about the vastness of these comments and its relationship to real community. This is a point where the full length feature film morphs into an interesting commentary on the shorts that inspired it.

As these two scenes collide it then moves us into a picture of togetherness and connectivity, imagining this process emerging from necessary points of transformation, something that comes when Marcel opens himself up to the possibility of change. What he longs for can only come when he learns how to let go of that which holds him in place. A way of seeing himself in relationship to a much bigger world, all of us bound together by way of the common spirit that draws all things to itself.

Published by davetcourt

I am a 40 something Canadian with a passion for theology, film, reading writing and travel.

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