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Review
[en]

GASP by Eicke Bettinga

Germany - Short Film Competition  

A boy puts a red plastic bag on his head, makes a knot at the two ends of the handles around his neck. Then he waits; and breathes. He sucks in the air faster and faster, the layers of plastic make a sizzling noise before he goes down, down on to the ground of the white bathroom floor. This is the opening scene of Eicke Bettinga’s short film called GASP. Gasp, like the English word for breathing, or trying to breathe. To suck something in, to give the outer world the power to affect you. That is exactly what the protagonist of the movie hopes to do. He just wants to feel something, anything. This attempt becomes already very clear in the first scene when he intentionally faints in his parents’ bathroom. But it becomes even more apparent in the following scene when his hands are sliding along the bark of a huge tree with classical, pure music underlining the minimalistic atmosphere. It also becomes evident to notice during the first encounter of the two boys in the middle of this forest. When they glance at each other, when they wander around, when one of them sacrifices himself for the other in the end.

Eicke Bettinga doesn’t give any explanation neither for the boy’s state of mind nor for his relation to the anonymous guy who just appears in the midst of the nature. He doesn’t give any clue about where we are, why we are there and where we are going. There is a cut, practically a black gap dividing the film almost like a classical opera to keep us from solving the mystery when we were just about to. And we begin to realize that those shouldn’t be the questions to ask when it comes to Bettinga’s movie. He prefers to play with symbols, leitmotivs, ideas, and symptoms. He touches on the big, abstract themes of solidarity, of human connection, of isolation, numbness and sacrifice. We are wandering through that mystic forest which looks like a sinister version of German Romanticism; we are longing for a feeling, for a kick, for relief. And Bettinga gives it to us, to the boy. His short film is not one which leaves the audience in the dark, wondering. He is not afraid of the resolution and the end of a movie. The story comes full circle; he leaves the stage with a loud bang.

by Franziska Knupper

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