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quietearth [Celluloid 02.26.08] review short scifi steampunk

Year: 2006
Director: Tom Van Avermaet
Writer: Tom Van Avermaet
IMDB: link
Trailer: link
Review by: quietearth
Rating: 7 out of 10

One of the great things about film festivals is that you get to see stuff before it's released, and unfortunately in many cases, that won't be released at all. Many directors start by doing shorts but they rarely get released, so I was lucky enough to find this gem in a fest lineup and now we're sharing it with you. Written and directed by Tom Van Avermaet out of Belgium, Droomtijd is the story of a man who feels meek in his suffocating environment, marching to work, typing, sleeping, and doing everything to the beat of the clock. This beautiful world Tom has created is crushed by time which provides the sole order for everything. I imagine this is what it would be like in JG Ballard's Chronopolis, before this world was destroyed by a revolt.

Our main character Alex sleeps in a small sanitized bed, in a small room, and wears the baddest steampunk eye gear while sleeping. We never find out why the headgear, but when you sit alone in your room looking at the calendar which says "The clock is your friend", there's a definite problem. He goes to work and rattles away on a typewriter. then promptly files back when it's time. If missing one of the pre-determined time deadlines, a buzzer with a red light goes off, and as you can image, this seems to make everyone uneasy.

Through two managers discussing figures, we discover there is a "sandman" causing a decline in productivity. Only after someone sneaks into Alex's room and throws dust in his eyes do we get to see how real the sandman is. This causes a whole chain of events which basically spells revolt, but coupled with the upbeat, almost fairytale like soundtrack, only means something good.

Tom's vision is so beautiful, both in it's style and symmetry, one can't wonder if it's not inspired by both MC Escher and Dark City. When I initially asked what he called the style used in the film, he told me "steampunk crossed with german expressionism" which I would definitely say is a matching fat. Full of bowler and top hats, the sartorial style and coloring make for a real treat. I'm definitely looking forward to whatever Tom does next.

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