Directed by Martin Gerigk | Reviewed by Rich Monetti
In, Once I Passed, Martin Gerigk is back up on his platform and going knee deep into his passion for experimental filmmaking. If you’ve never had a look, the filmmaker’s Film Freeway bio says his driving force is exploring the illustration of the hidden poetry of natural phenomena and sciences. The 10 minute short definitely suffices and references an actual poet to dig deep.
From the Walt Whitman poem, Gerigk invokes his multidimensional and multidisciplinary style. However, it’s very easy to miss the reference to Walt Whitman in the opening shot, and even if you do, his poem probably isn’t on the tip of most people’s tongue.
So you’re flying a bit blind in trying to unravel the sounds, words and imagery. Of course, fans of Gerigk probably know they’ll be watching more than once to get an understanding.
Either way, we are bombarded with black and white images of old NYC, and the classical violin racing forward effectively conveys the excitement. That said, the choice of going old school with the visuals helps cement the main concept of the film.
The man has come to the metropolis to have his brain imprinted with the sights, the sounds and the people. But fate intervenes. “Now of all that city, I only remember the man,” the narrator laments. The result : the encounter wipes all traces of the surrounding civilization from his memory bank and implies the power of love. In accordance, we realize how this past has long been wiped from ours, and that our glorious surroundings don’t stand a chance either when it comes to the human desire to connect.
Nonetheless, a disruption in instrumental alerts us to the inevitable plot point shift. An ominous chorus dropping from above, Once I Passed foretells impending doom now and we ready ourselves.
Thus, the competition for brain space plays out in the roots of chemistry and math. At odds, we take in the cold hard calculation that rose the architecture to the sky, and the biological chemistry of love. So the city landscape is appropriately interspersed with mathematical equations and compounded elements from the periodic table.
Alongside the competing formulas, the men make their appearance and the visual is very poetic. In other words, you never really get a distinct image of either. From behind, their eyes blacked out or squares standing in for their faces, we don’t have something concrete to hold onto. So yes, the painful want does establish a thread and makes the meeting universal, but a more powerful tie could have been made.
Put a pair of consistent faces before us, and with the elusive backdrop of the city standing in contrast, a more personal connection could have emerged for the viewer and the men. Conversely, since we don’t have an image to grasp throughout, we wonder how important they actually were to each other.
So when things go awry for the couple, it’s harder to feel the pain of the narrator. “Only one rude and ignorant man,” he sounds a little unjustified in his anger and exasperation.
We still get it though, and through Gerigk’s full serving of music, imagery and knowing voice over, we can’t help being haunted by what might have been in our lives – even if those buildings are so proud and tall.
Rich Monetti was born in the Bronx and grew up in Somers, New York. He went onto study Computer Science and Math at Plattsburgh State. But after about a decade in the field, he discovered that writing was his real passion. He’s been a freelancer since 2003 and is always looking for the next story. Rich also dabbles with screenwriting and stays active by playing softball and volleyball.