(excerpt from) One Dark Film

Chris Kerr

Film is not only the flicker fusion of light and picture into motion and story.

Even this bright half cannot develop without a dark baptism.

Film is total darkness, the closed shutter between every frame, dozens of times per second.

All movies consist of the same black film we never see we see.

There's no need to rewire my eyes to witness dark flecks merge into one-hundred-minute oblivion.

Distress, sorrow, boredom turn to film, VHS, DVD.

None is suppressed

but suspended within reach.

Voidness is sustained

near voluptuous.

Some go to films because of the dark as much as despite,

Like Kiarostami's ABC Africa, an often-jubilant documentary despite the pandemic of AIDS in Uganda and because of the orphans who smile, sing, and dance despite their parents' death.

But it is this that gives us cinema's most transfixing shots of darkness.

For six and a half crafty minutes, the screen is without image or color, showing only subtitles of the bemused film crew trying to find its way through the dark that ensues when electricity is cut at midnight.

There's the occasional flit of light from a match, flashlight, or bolt of lightning.

Many of the minutes are uninterrupted black, visceral meaning.

Kiarostami, cutting to the heart, makes audiences part of a living symbol.

A voice asks, "How can they live in this darkness?"

How would you answer, especially if the audience is a "they" and the darkness we sit in "this darkness?"

Would you note we're in on the scheme of things, the globe-mangled horror?

In what way is it an answer,

the light

ning flaring full


troubled branches

onto the dark

ened screen

Like a projector slowed so down we can see between the seen?


(See in the dark of Dream of Light and A Man Escaped in P r o j e c t o r Issue One.)