A Short Film For Saturday

Andrew Sullivan —  Jan 3 2015 @ 8:33pm

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Bernardo Britto’s film Yearbook imagines the end of the world:

As is usually best when depicting world-shattering events, Britto’s film is insular, the script a narrated monologue (by Britto himself) detailing a single character’s evolving process of cataloguing the history of humanity. It’s a remarkable premise, and Britto thoughtfully explores it within the film’s short 5 minute runtime. The real twist? When the hard drive runs out of space. …

Britto’s dry delivery of the narration, and the character’s placid demeanor combine to undersell the strong emotional effect of the film however. When dealing with such a weighty topic there isn’t a need to cue the violins, the thoughtful carrying out of inquiry will arrive at a pretty devastating place. When our lonely cataloguer reaches his epiphany, we recognize where he’s ended up. We feel for him, we feel for ourselves, we feel for everyone we’ve ever loved.

In an interview back in August, Britto spoke about what inspired the work:

The film poses the question, what if you were tasked with condensing the whole of human history into a single hard drive. What inspired this idea?

The idea came from the obvious realization that everything will be forgotten eventually. And, with that in the front of my mind, it became really hard for me to create something new. The only thing that made sense was for me to make a movie about that feeling and confront it head on. I think the hard drive thing specifically was something left over in brain from the bit in Keanu Reeve’s really great documentary Side By Side where they talk about film preservation. I pretty much just ripped off Keanu for that one.

As part of the narrative concept, you were forced to select your own take on the most important people in history. How did you decide who would be spoken about and who would actively be written off?

It’s actually not my own take; I tried to make it so it was the character’s own take. So it’s very male-centric and also from a pretty American point of view. Initially there were a few more film people and Walt Disney and stuff and I had to sort of step back and think, “Who would this guy think is important?” So the only black people he writes about are the two most obvious Civil Rights leaders. And the only women are Jane Fonda–whom he seems to remember more forBarbarella than for her political activism–and Joan of Arc and Marie Curie–but only because of how they died. And then I snuck a few people in that I just personally think are interesting historical figures like Eugene Debs, Ninoy Aquino, and Tiradentes.