The Unchanging Sea

The Unchanging Sea ★★★½

A Year of Film History Challenge 2020
(watching a little bit of film history month by month, decade by decade)
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I had the thought while watching this DW Griffith short inspired by a Charles Kingsley poem that this all felt very familiar to something else I'd watched recently, specifically Mati Diop's Atlantics (2019). Then I thought how the foundation of both these cinematic stories (desperate men in need of work take small boats out into the ocean only to disappear and leave ashore grieving women) is probably a story that winds backwards through human history much further than I'm aware of.

As for this Griffith short, the storytelling is rudimentary and muddled to be sure, but the beautiful shot composition and abundance of striking imagery goes a long way towards making up for that (although it does seem hard to go wrong when utilizing this particular setting). Still, it's interesting to see how--from the Griffith early days of cinema and right up into the Diop present--filmmakers are able to cleanly, simply, powerfully convey so many different aspects of the human experience just by showing the way a person relates to the ocean's waves.

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