“Interruptus” is a short film by the highly acclaimed photographer Duane Michals. With “Interruptus” Michals continues to explore the narrative possibilities of multiple exposure technique in film form. The technique that he has used in his mesmerizing and expressive photographs, varying from narrative photo-sequences to staged dreamlike multiple exposure pieces. As a master of form, Michals also has entwined text to his photos, creating multimodal experiences that are both visually stunning and semantically multidimensional.
Michals’ experience in photography crystallizes in “Interruptus”, which uses all of the techniques above to create a captivating narrative from a chamberlike story. Like the name suggests, “Interruptus” is all about interrupting or breaking apart. About agony of interruption and torment arising from the feeling that something was lost.
The short film starts with two men and a bed. The men start to get undress in a setting that quickly obtains a theatrical atmosphere that is underpinned by melodramatic acting. The young men are full of passion, filling the room with haze of lust, which the experiential colors and filters communicate. The men are quickly interrupted by a woman, who is startled by the coincidence. Her presence cuts through their act, killing all that could have been. Love, lust, everything. The protagonist, one of the men, is left alone and confused by the feeling he has and acts he has done seeking comfort in his desires.
The composition that is based on multiple exposures creates a dreamlike effect in which sense of time and reality dissolves. The form constructs a kind of Balthusian erotic dreaminess that is rarely accomplished effectively in cinema. But “Interruptus” succeeds by establishing a timeless and poetic tone carried by the divine Beethoven’s Three String Trios Op. 9 Trio Number 2 in D Major, which both fits the sexual connotations and psychological undercurrents of the characters. Michals’ experiential cinematic composition melts the narrative into the form creating a feeling of illusion, disorientation, and incompleteness. Although, the realistic color tones of the ending suggest possible interpretations, the dreamy feeling remains, rising above the rationale. In other words, the form provokes the senses to take over the thoughts.
As the previous indicates, “Interruptus” is not a short film for those who love narrative- or character-driven short films. It is a pure and deliberate manipulation and manifestation of a form that gives cinematic life to a narrative idea of a man interrupted from being who he really is. Therefore, the thin and conceptual dialogue free narrative as well as the singular style of the film might look uninviting for the ones accustomed to the familiar. For the ones who recognized themselves in the description, “Interruptus” might appear something artsy out of a modern art exhibition, where the piece loops quietly on an old CRT. But for those who are willing to look past the unconventional style, “Interruptus” has a lot to offer, despite its short runtime. Because all in all Michals “Interruptus” is a phantasmal exploration of form that lures with clarity of its narrative and innovativeness of its techniques.