Whale Valley (2013) movie review – A deafening silence

Whale valley (2013) - A nearly dead whale wants to live, An alive man wants to die, A boy stuck in the middle of them. This sorts of sums up the short film

Whale valley – A nearly dead whale wants to live, An alive man wants to die, A boy stuck in the middle of them. This sorts of sums up the short film. I have never seen such a short length-ed movie dwelling on a relationship this deeper. The film portrays the various shades of brotherhood in its limited span, and the cinematography stunningly paints the barren Icelandic landscapes on screen. At the same time, the characters perform their roles quite well amidst the emotions and the scenery.

I always believe that –

‘The silence in a movie speaks a thousand words’

This short film only reinforces my notion. The entire movie has less than ten exchanges. However, it is powerful and compelling through its deafening quietness. This short film deserves to advance into a feature film, and the director will surely look to it.

Whale Valley still - 1

The Opening

‘Whale valley’ opens up with a panning shot of the valley with a beautiful back score by the wind. The title fades in just as the camera moves over a group of tiny woodsheds. As the title fades out, We see a teenage boy standing on top of a wooden box in one of the sheds. He has his neck tied with a loop of a hemp rope’s edge. The other side of the rope is around the shed’s mid partition. He is trying to commit suicide. The entire pan shot is in a subdued greyish hue.

Now, this scene makes two things very clear. One, the film is going to tell a delicate story, and it doesn’t want to waste even a single precious second to say the same. Two, the tone of the shot conveys the harsh mood of the film. So the viewers coming here for some fun shorty, be aware (Get lost!?). The director of ‘Whale Valley’ uses the film language to immense perfection. The crew takes extensive care to convey the vastness and the almost deserted surrounding of the main characters.

The attempt of suicide

As the boy is deciding on when to push the wooden box, his younger brother sees him while walking outside the shed. Shocked, he begins to run away to inform his parents on this. The elder brother drops his plan and chases his younger brother. He catches him and advises him not to say a word to their parents and lends his cigar in return. At the supper, they come to know about the dead whale that has been washed ashore by the sea.

Whale Valley still - 3

The next day, the boys go along with their father and his friend to the shore to check on the whale and to take a part of it for their family meal. These grants can never be overlooked. A whale can serve a house for an entire season. The young boy rubs on the skin of the fish as he walks along its side. As he keeps his ears closer to the whale, he feels the whale’s feeble breaths. Nevertheless, the father starts cutting from its teeth end as the boy looks on.

The dead whale?

The little boy roams around with a confused look throughout. He is unable to grasp the will of the whale to still live even after dying and makes him feel strange. His brother is depressed (of course, he doesn’t apprehend the fact) and thinks something is making his brother sad. In a rather unexpected pre-climax, the little boy tries to test how he feels when he hangs his head within a hemp rope. Of course, he does it with the presence of the wooden box beneath his feet. His idea is to catch his brother’s reaction to see him like this.

Whale Valley still - 5

The second attempt

There is tension around the air as the scene induces a dread that something terrible is going to happen to the boy and the eerie silence only intensifies this feel. As suspected, the box breaks suddenly, and the boy struggles to breathe as the gravity squeezes him within the rope. The boy earnestly pleads for his brother to arrive. And just when all the hope vanishes, his brother walks into the shed. Seeing the boy, he runs towards him and cuts the rope.

The tiny boy embraces his brother tightly and cries. That night both the brothers sleep together. The elder brother asks his younger one whether he thinks he should talk with their parents (about his depression). The little boy nods his head wearily. As they cuddle together, the screen fades off.

The understanding

The brothers begin to understand the problems they face. The tiny boy , though much younger, begins to comprehend the difficulties of life. By joining hands with his elder brother, he is ready to face the world. Come whatever, one has to solve his/her hurdles and move on only to face the nest hurdle in the dominoes. Depression is a term which is so difficult to represent on screen. The director has worked hard to make the audience feel the troubles of a depressed teenager in the very short time he gets to tell his story.

The whale valley, finally…

Quality ranks higher than quantity. The short film ‘whale valley’ is just about a quarter of an hour in length. But the message it tries to convey is substantial and hard-hitting. Though inconclusive, the movie explores the rawness of melancholy and brotherhood in such fascination. The little boy’s confused roaming around the valley on comparing a dead whale’s wish to live and his live brother’s desire to die. He finds the truths of death and depression at such early stages.

Whale Valley still - 2

Despite being depressed, the elder brother finds the heart to look after his brother. I am pretty confident that the director has immense potential in making a solid full-length movie. I earnestly wish that he makes movies that are full of beauty like the ‘Whale Valley’. I kept wondering about what forced the little boy to try hanging on the rope. The question keeps pounding my head as it refuses to accept that this little stunt was all meant to a game. Or am I not grasping the something here? Do comment on what you feel after watching the movie.

Man is sometimes extraordinarily, passionately, in love with suffering.

Fyoder Dostoevsky
Watch the ‘Whale Valley’ short film below –
Watch the ‘Whale Valley’ short film here
Whale Valley poster

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