It’s a Strange World (2011) – By Josh Samford

It’s a Strange World from director Hassan Said is a 27 minute free-form bit of surrealist cinema, similar to the work of David Lynch or Luis Bunuel. Said’s short is deceptive in its narrative form as we find ourselves trying our hardest in order to try and piece together these bits and pieces of a fleshed out story, but ultimately such a thing is not in the cards for the viewer. It’s a Strange World ultimately denies conventional values of “story” or “plot”, in an attempt to tie together meaning from the chaos of visual artistry. Regardless of what any viewer might take from the film, even as a purely surface level piece of visual fiction it is inspiring and beautiful to enjoy if you can retain an open mind whilst watching.

There’s not a whole lot that can be said in terms of a synopsis for It’s a Strange World, as it is basically a series of vignettes that revolve around hallucinogenic visuals and strange surrealist behavior. Each segment is headlined by a separate subtitle that looks to describe the various segments throughout. Sequences include "The Dream", "The Circus", "The Bunny" and "The Awakening", and their connections between one another are very loose to say the least. It is said that the "story" follows a woman named Eve who has a hallucinogenic dream after drinking water from a plant, but this concept doesn’t come across as 100% clear while watching so I don’t stress that as being an entirely accurate description. Comprised as a tour de force of visual sensations with stunning musical arrangement, It’s a Strange World is a very different but enjoyable project.

When you learn to trust a filmmaker, it is easier to let go of your inhibitions and simply enjoy film as art. Although I was able to take very little from the film as a narrative piece of storytelling, while watching I knew immediately from the start that Hassan Said was a filmmaker with a vision. The amount of time taken on this short film shows the dedication of the filmmaker, and we know that there are intentions behind every single shot. With that sort of craft involved, it becomes easy to sit back and let the visuals wash over you. While I took notes, re-watched and tried to decipher the mysterious images that flew past my retinas, I still do not have much of a grasp on what the filmmaker is trying to say with his subtext but I still respect his attempts at doing things differently. There are images throughout that hint at the plight of artistry, the differentiating concepts of sleep reality and what we perceive to be the real world as well as the place of technology in recording what we consider to be real… heady material, to say the least. The TV image is also very important in this regard. However, taking my very vague ideas of what the filmmaker is trying to say and enjoying it for its surface level entertainment… I have a lot of respect for the movie.

I can only tell viewers that this is a picture that is beautiful for its craft and not simply for its storytelling. While I wouldn’t call it style over substance, I think if one tries too hard to decipher every bit of subtext within the film they might lose sight of the inherit beauty of cinema. If you’re given the chance, check it out for yourself but remember to go in with an open mind. You can read more about the project at:

http://www.hassansaid.com/hs_projects_strangeworld.html