– Review by Fausta Noreikaitė
Captivated by rapidly changing urban landscapes and technological developments, humans distanced themselves from nature. The questions of our connection to nature are relevant now more than ever. Jasmijn Schrofer with the movie Death of Darkness tries to explore our connection with nature and our dependency on electricity. ‘The possession of light has not only made our society more productive and more powerful, but it has also made people more vulnerable and dependent on it’ (Schrofer). Thus, she travels to Northern Kenya, Illaut, and documents a closed nomadic community that till now relied on the cycle of day and night (sun and the moon). The village is about to install electricity, hence Schrofer explores what impact electricity has on their lives and together with that, asks what does it do to any of our lives.
The movie explores what darkness is and shows affinity to its presence. We hear characters of the film talking about dangerous and wild animals, who come at night, we see people singing, working, dancing and situating their lives around the cycle of nature. Nonetheless, the fire (light) is no less dangerous. Throughout the movie, we hear a narrator questioning the force of the fire, which brings a huge advantage to our lives, but at the same time has the ability to destroy if we don’t act carefully with it. By electrifying our lives, we lost the affinity and connection with the darkness. The night is not tender, but rather scary and dangerous, full of mystery and suspense. This short film subverts this relationship or view towards the darkness and invites us to tame it again, to think about its softness and even fragility. In this movie, the night is a gentle and uniting force, and darkness is an invitation to reflect on what light/electricity does to our lives and even to our perception of the night, or even to regain the knowledge we lost.
Silence is an important part of the movie too. In today’s busy and fast-moving society, to stop and listen (to nature, to others, to your own thoughts) is almost uncomfortable and scary. In the same way, as darkness is alien in the intensely ‘lighten’ societies, the silence is alien to the postmodern person too. In the dark, we wish to immediately eliminate the dusk and lighten up our environment. This movie is an invitation to listen to the darkness more closely.
If to try to put this movie in the category, it could be classified as a documentary/video essay.