Great science fiction speaks to human truths and fears, from The Planet of the Apes' commentary on racism to Godzilla as a metaphor for the atomic bomb. For his latest sci-fi short film, The Narrow World, filmmaker Brent Bonacorso envisioned a giant kaiju sitting serenely in Venice Beach, LA. The beast articulates the wild inside of humans—the untapped personality traits, longings, and ambitions left unrealized.
"The best monsters are always metaphors, either for an outside force, or for an aspect of the human condition," Bonacorso tells Creators of his giant alien, which he calls The Visitor. "The latter is what inspired me here," he continues. "The subconscious mind that drives our actions by brute force, but that we're most often completely unaware of. Something that feels alien to us, an incredibly powerful outsider that lives within us." While Bonacorso's alien projects serenity, the humans' perplexity at his aloofness plays out in two narratives, one of empathy in the lead character, and another of defensiveness with a retired military official who states, "Peace and quiet can generally be judged as ongoing, covert enemy action."
The Narrow World surprises the viewer, not only with its atypical plot, but also with its stunning visual effects. The design of the alien, created by French graphic designer, Olivier "Zamak" Bucheron, straddles the line between nature and machine. Bonacorso elaborates, "I think the one big eye really captures this. He studies everything around him, but his expression, his internal thoughts and feelings about it all, are completely opaque." Led by the protagonist's special connection to the alien, film floats along, unhurried, yet punctured at times by the artifice of suspect from the Colonel who finds threat in the alien's passivity.
In subverting the traditional science fiction alien invasion narrative, Bonacorso chose to humble the human race and watch the aftermath play out, posing questions to the viewer, such as, "How would we react to being ignored by it, made to feel so insignificant?" He says of the film, "It's an exploration of how we interpret the world around us, and how our subconscious mind invisibly directs our behavior. How well do we know ourselves and our motivations? What drives our behavior?"
Though Bonacorso lacked the budget of a mainstream effects film, limited CGI was not a problem for The Narrow World. "I knew the film should flow like a stream-of-conscious daydream," Bonacorso explains. "I didn't want the editor, genius Jack Pyland, to be constrained by the traditional pipeline of 'effects shots.' I wanted him to be able to draw from a huge pool of images and ideas, both practical and CG, to create this dreamy non-linear story." So, Bonacorso created his own "massive archive" of alien shots that gave Pyland the freedom to create the moody, spacious, ethereal film that is, The Narrow World.
Watch The Narrow World in full below.
Currently, Bonacorso is finishing up the film, You Get Me, for Dreamworks and Awesomeness Films. You can find out more about his work on his website.