The contemplative Night Has Come is made up of restored and digitized archival film from the Royal Belgian Film Archive. The black and white patchwork is quiet and slow-moving with a post-documentary feel. Peter Van Goethem uses reels of old memories to create new memories, about fading memories. It is the introspective narrative of the befuddled victim of a virus that eats the human mind. As the disease progresses, the patient is left with only darkness.
As the patient is monitored by whichever researchers, doctors, government officials and nameless others-in-charge, he grapples with fragmented recollections. He wonders if it is in fact the government implanting the disease into its victims, like lab rats. Perhaps the treatment he’s undergoing is the virus. The timing is perfect to watch movies and play video games about zombies, viruses, and government conspiracies. We’ve seen a plethora of such subject matter in 2020 pop culture. By now we’ve all heard a virus conspiracy theory or two that resemble what the narrator of Night Has Come speaks about.
Life itself might be a disease to be treated. We live to forget and to be forgotten. Who will remember us when we pass on? What legacy will we leave behind? From any standpoint, our memories will be material for the future. This is not only the Symbolic but also the Material of Goethem’s concoction. He uses countless memories from many individuals’ lives. The memories of strangers long gone have become the future. As we watch it, we might think our lives are ending. Maybe they are beginning. Maybe they are beginning again. This is a poetic and at times disjointed analysis of the definite and the dismal; the potential and the hopeful; and the pensive and the positive.
Though with an entirely different atmosphere, a comparison must be drawn to Dragonfly Eyes (Xu Bing, 2017). It was compiled from more modern sources (CCTV footage) but similarly touched on the ideas of memory, parallel existences, and personal narrative.
Night Has Come – On Demand October 7th – 31st, 2020