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Our Fear of Death Explored Through Poetry, Cinema, and Symbolism

Written and Directed by Ralitza Dimitrova | Review by Triptayan Chatterjee

[dropcap]R[/dropcap]alitza Dimitrova’s film “What Colour is This World?” explores the life of a poet, Danila, who analyzes her fear of death and dying through her creative work. She attempts to define what death is and believes that life exists after the inevitable loss of our physical body.

Every shot of the film is on par with in-depth psychoanalysis of a poet, and at the same time all human beings. Dimitrova’s, “What Colour is This World,” is the surrealistic and mystic look at the young woman’s inner turmoil and final acceptance of her fear of death, before she passed away at the tender age of 23-years-old.

Taken Too Soon

A woman sits alone in a dark room under a spotlight on her fear of death.
Image via Screenshot FilmFreeway

With camera, light, and sound, the documentary film is a fantastic record of Danila’s academic studies along with the in-depth psychoanalysis of the poet before her death. Not only that; personal symbolism elevates the documentary film in the world of cinema.

The concept of surrealism began as an effect of the second great war, with existentialism and personal symbolism finding their way into the arts.

Symbolism explores personal acceptance

To make a point, the young poet uses surrealism to face the imminence of her passing. Danila understands that all humans must face their ultimate passing and uses this knowledge to find the strength to continue to live a vibrant life until the end.

As she explores her fear of death, she gradually comes to terms by believing that death is not the last word of life. Death is the ultimate truth, but more than this is the sense of living comes from being alive in a beautiful world.  The song, “What Colour is this World,” is the backdrop for her exploration.

Death is not the end

Ultimately, the burden of knowing she would die an early age urges the poet’s surrealistic thoughts to examine every step of her life. Danila had to confront her fear of death to get at a concrete solution for her life. Perhaps in doing so, she avoided distress at the time of her death, because she knew that death is not the ultimate end to our existence.

A song writer sits next to a man playing the piano with a song about reconning one's fear of death.
Image via Screenshot FilmFreeway

Dimitrova’s film tries to see the vast colors in the world. Each color holds a different meaning, becoming the poet’s personal symbolism in the movie. This symbolic representation of the poet’s inner thought proves the most valuable part of the film.

Surrealism and the meaning of life

Ants around the branches of the tree, walking down the forest path, a flying window screen — each moment describes the poet’s feelings.

Additionally, interviews with different people regarding the poet and her works give this documentary an added dimension. Its’ delicate documentation of her life and works echo the hidden voice of the poet.

Her works as songs ring out throughout the film, with titles such as “Pigeons Sing Sinful Hymns” and “Their Dead Hearts Weep in the Cold;” the poet is a most unpoetical being; this goes a proverb.

Conquering the Fear of Death

The screenplay follows the theme of the poet’s life and works filled with her fear of death and its’ reconning.

Sometimes one absence gives meaning to our lives more than many other presences. ~ Vlado Levchev

Surrealism infiltrates each chapter of  Dimitrova’s film “What Colour is This World?” with medium-long shots, as well as the medium shots that bring us a bit closer to our subject; beautifully taken shots that keep the angle of the camera on point.

Even better, the outdoor scenes are an example of fantastic color correction. Best of all, every image of each shot bears meaning.

Fullmoon shedding moonlight on old buildoings and tress in a canted camera angle.
Image via Screenshot FilmFreeway

With a serious mood and a clear voice, the interviews are deep-rooted and personal. Each part makes the film a successful documentary which has its place in contemporary cinema.


Triptayan Chatterjee

Triptayan is a filmmaker looking for a different horizon. Earlier a journalist Triptayan has done intensive research on film language and made different documentaries so far. He is now concentrating upon feature film in a vast landscape. Professionally a teacher, Triptayan has also passion for making films threaded with international and universal thoughts.


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