The Dead Man Speaks


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

The Dead Man Speaks
"A simple idea brilliantly rendered."

In the early part of the 19th Century, when Europeans began seriously questioning Judeo-Christian ideas and wondering what secrets the universe might hold if they couldn't rely on the Bible to explain everything, there was a great fascination with the idea of communicating with the dead and trying to find out how they experienced the world. Marcos Mereles' The Dead Man Speaks is presented in the style of that era, with a series of black and white slides and droll narration. The narrator (Sameer van Alfen) introduces himself as a man who has passed on and dryly comments on issues of concern to the general public.

What is it like to be dead? What do the dead do all day? Where, exactly, are the dead? All these questions and more are answered as we view the slides, which take us on a tour of the city where, we assume, the dead man abides. The grainy film invites us to focus on shadows and subconsciously try to interpret details we can't quite make out. These were the places where early ghost hunters sought to find their prey on camera - and, perhaps, located them in those parts of the human mind where our pattern-spotting instincts and imagination combine.

A simple idea brilliantly rendered, The Dead Man Speaks, which screened at Fantasia 2018, recalls some of the more playful work of Werner Herzog. its calm approach, taking the fantastic for granted, is subtly provocative. For all that it effects artlessness, there's a rick vein of black humour running throughout. The result is something rather delightful.

Reviewed on: 03 Aug 2018
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The Dead Man Speaks packshot
A man explains what it's like to be dead.

Director: Marcos Mereles

Writer: Marcos Mereles

Starring: Sameer van Alfen

Year: 2017

Runtime: 2 minutes

Country: Netherlands


Fantasia 2018

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