You may ask yourself why I review a teaser. Teasers are short, and don’t give away a lot. In fact, Swedish artist Anders Weberg has released a very short teaser for his 720h film Ambiancé, which is due to premiere in December 2020. There is, however, a longer teaser, which lasts 72min, and somewhat defies the actual meaning of a teaser. Yet considering the length of the overall film, a 72min teaser is probably still extremely short.
For those who are not yet aware of Weberg’s project: Ambiancé will be his last film, the longest film ever made, at least this is how he himself advertises it. The film will run over the course of a whole month and will then be destroyed. Teasers and trailers will be released in the coming years. In 2016, Weberg will release a seven-and-a-half hour trailer. If you’re familiar with Lav Diaz’s films, this “trailer” shouldn’t be a big problem for you. Two years later, you will have to invest about ten hours more to see the second trailer of the film. It’s an endurance test, and for this reason somewhat more relevant to the research ofGlyn Davis from Edinburgh University rather than my own. And yet, it somehow fits my work in some strange way.
Weberg’s Ambiancé is an experimental film. A lot of his short films can be seen on his Vimeo page, and if you click through those, you will get an idea of how the final product will eventually play out. Ambiancé is not exactly slow the way we define it in terms of slow film. But it’s a superb contemplative film. I was naive and thought that because I have the stamina to endure a Lav Diaz film, it would be easy for me to watch Ambiancé. I caught myself thinking about time, only to realise that it is not about time at all. If you’re interested in the subject matter, then an eight-hour Lav Diaz film isn’t going to be a problem for you. Watching this is not much different from watching a normal film, unless you make it different and repeatedly think about the length of the film. If you just follow the narrative, you will sometimes catch yourself thinking that the films are, in fact, very short.
It’s rather different with Ambiancé. I did stop the film after fifty minutes for a break. Strangely enough, I found the 72min teaser – in its own way – extremely moving. There’s no dialogue. It’s not a narrative film as such. It conveys everything through visuals, and these visuals are strong. I watched it a few weeks ago and I initially didn’t want to write about it, and I still find it difficult to do so because words cannot describe this piece. I’m not sure what the whole film will be about in the end, and no one will probably ever know because no one will ever be able to see the entire film unless you want to live off energy drinks for thirty days. It’s one of those gallery films that are, perhaps, not meant to be watched in its entirety.
With Ambiancé, I’d say that this is the case. You don’t even need to watch the whole thing. There is so much in only 72 minutes that the full 720h piece would probably blow your mind. I could be wrong, and it could merely be my own reading, but this film says a lot about emptiness, absence and sadness. It feels extremely personal and sometimes I wondered whether I was really meant to see it. There is nothing obscene, nothing violent, nothing shocking. And yet, I wanted to close my eyes from time to time. I’m not sure whether it was to savour the beauty of the images, or whether it was because I felt I shouldn’t see it. It was such a peculiar, and nevertheless rewarding experience.
I’m looking forward to the seven-and-a-half hour “trailer”, although I know that I will probably not watch the whole thing in one go. I always find myself struggling to digest Lav Diaz’s films. Weberg’s Ambiancéwas a very similar challenge. I’m a visual person, and some images simply stick and I can’t get them out of my head. There are several scenes I still have in my head, playing out in slow motion, but I’m not even trying to describe them. I think it would ruin the film.