Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Limpiando Sapos (Chasing Rats)- Vera Shamo-Garcia



Limpiando Sapos

Vero Shamo-Garcia

I feel I must speak about the film, “Limpiado Sapos” (Chasing Rats) because it intrigues the idea of the purpose for creating short films. I truly believe that shorts exist and should be appreciated outside the sphere of an avenue to creating features. This being said, Chasing Rats is an interesting blend of two possibilities: it exists wholly and satisfyingly as a short, as well as screaming potential for a feature length film.

The short tells the story of a young brother and sister who join the guerrilla movement in Columbia. Anita’s goal is to protect her younger brother. She is put to the test when her brother is told to kill a boy his own age. When it becomes clear that this boy is going to be shot, Anita steps in and kills for her brother.

Just under 14 minutes, the story progresses at somewhat the same speed as you would imagine a feature to progress. There is character build-up and a pretty step-by-step account of what is progressing in the story. We see Anita’s character harden while her little brother stays guarded. The final scene pits Anita against her brother. Does she kill him to save her family? What happens to everyone if she doesn’t kill him? Do they all die?

This is what the viewer is left with at the final scene. There is no wrap-up, no resolution. We are left at this tense, high moment. The nature of plugging this film into a showcase left much to be desired. The short that followed was a comedy, and I felt completely disconnected, and even angry at the next film, simply because it should not have followed such an intense emotional high. When I was wrapped up in the end of Chasing Rats, I was literally grabbing the chair in anticipation. Then to have the screen go black was a mixture of resentment and intrigue.

When the screening ended, I was talking with people about their favorite short of the day. Interestingly, the common theme was Chasing Rats because, as one man said in the lobby (while I gave him a disapproving look), “I could easily see it as a feature.” This gets back to my original argument that I felt compelled to blog about this particular film because of filmmaking purpose. While I agree that the short could have been layered and expanded upon to create a feature, I also think that it is interesting that you can whittle-down a story and have it be even more powerful then if everything was spelled out for you and conclusions put in front of you.

13 comments:

Paul Klein said...

"Chasing Rats" was definitely one of my least favorite films at the Spanish Showcase. It was all a ploy; a trick. I don't mind twists and turns, features can use these beautifully (Psycho, Vertigo anyone?), but with short films, you can only twist so many times, often only once, and this turns into a blatant trick. It's mean to the audience. I don't like to invest myself only to have to buy into a trick at the end. It's not the dissatisfaction of not knowing what happens, it's the pissed off feeling of being used.

Anonymous said...

I think that's the beauty of short films that it is condensed and you get what the film's intent is. However, you finish it wanting more.

Anonymous said...

What else should a film be but an emotional ride? Like it or dislike it you feel emotion. Many feature films start from a small idea or a short story. It's the quality of the characters that may beg for more development.

Anonymous said...

I also agree that films should be an emotional ride and i think this one does an amazing job of that. I almost think it is more powerful because you don't know what happens in the end

Anonymous said...

I like movies that make you use your imagination to fill in details that have been purposely left out of the film. Making this film feature length might take away from its value, rather than add to it.

Anonymous said...

This was an unforgettable experience, very disturbing. Great story.

Anonymous said...

never really got the "point" of the chasing rats film, the file seeks depths of childhood that are not in real children yet you hear that children can commit murder is that not the point of the short????

Anonymous said...

Sometimes (and I'm referring to you, Paul Klein), you have to realize that while its great to invest yourself in a film, a minor investment of seven minutes should probably be short enough to compensate for the fact that you felt used and irate. They displayed an interesting story in a short amount of time, and I can't imagine that your feelings of rage could be that strong.

Christine Barndt said...

To me a mediator between Paul's comment and the one *attacking* him, there are good points in either side. First, to agree with Paul, sometimes these twist can be irritating and leave you saying to yourself, "what the hell just happened??"...and not in a good way. But I think I have to agree most with the other comments. These are what make a short a unique film sector. The ability to have a crazy resolution would be TOO upsetting when you had invested yourself in a feature-length film. However, after only a few minutes, I am not invested enough to be angry.

Anonymous said...

I mean, I didn't see this film, but from the decription I feel like I would want a surprise at the end. Why else would i watch it? If nothing surprising happens then I think that would make me pissed, not the other way around

Erica said...

I also didn't see this film, but from the sounds of it I want to. The lack of a solid ending seems intriguing

Anonymous said...

I always find it interesting when films end without giving a resolution. It makes it seem real in a way.

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