The aboriginal Australian filmmaker Warwick Thornton was early to the self-isolation trend, sequestering himself on a stretch of shoreline on the Dampier Peninsula long before the pandemic forced everyone to coop up in their homes. He’d gone there for one month all by his lonesome to shoot a slow-cinema project called The Beach, previously broadcast as a three-hour event on Australian TV network SBS, and now coming to a global audience in a curious altered form.
The trailer below announces that through their live-streaming Screening Room platform, A24 will bring The Beach to viewers all over the world, but there’s no need to worry about meeting specific showtimes. In a first for the service, they will run the three-hour program on a continuous loop that those willing to fork over six American dollars for a ticket can access and return to at their own leisure.
The idea is that the film has no set beginning or end, instead more of a meditative medium meant for mindful immersion, as hinted at by the tagline of ‘Breathe in’ repeated in the trailer below. (Which itself loops three times, giving a small impression of the pure vibes in which we’ve been invited to bask.) A viewer can sit down for the complete three-hour film, or pop in and out for an hour – without much of a plot to speak of, there’s no set onboarding point.
The film sees Thornton himself wandering around an idyllic clime, his actions guided by the imperative of low-stakes survival: he makes a hut, shelters from the unforgiving sun, and most importantly, he finds enough natural bounty to feed himself. There’s a hint of food porn to this soothing visit to the great outdoors, as we watch Thornton prepare fish and fruit with crisp sound effects to rouse our appetites.
During the American holiday of Thanksgiving, there’s always a slow burn of anxiety for those bustling about with family, much of it related to elaborate meal preparation. What could be a better tonic for that particular fatigue than solitude, calm, and back-to-basics cooking?
The Beach will stream via A24’s Screening Room from 22 November to 28 November.
Published 2 Nov 2021
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