Thursday, February 22, 2018

Philip K. Dick ’18: Niggun (short)

It is fitting that we finally officially recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. After all, it is a city that captures the imagination and it endures all attempts at destruction. In the far future, it will be about all that is left of the fabled planet Earth in Yoni Salmon’s animated short film, Niggun (trailer here), which screens during the 2018 Philip K. Dick Film Festival.

The Rabbi and the Archaeologist believe they deduced the location of the mythical Earth from a series of esoteric clues, but they are alarmed when the smallish blue planet does not appear where it should. As they get closer, they find clusters of fragments held together by gravity. The largest asteroid holds the well-preserved remains of what resembles the capital city of Jerusalem. At first, they are disappointed, but there is still much to see. However, it is not quite as lifeless as it initially looks.

Niggun is a strangely rewarding film, because it gives off a whimsical vibe, but evokes a deeper, sadder sense of wisdom and enlightenment. Frankly, it is hard not to be moved by the site of Israel in ruins—still standing as all that really remains intact of Earth.

Salmon’s animation is also quite droll, incorporating hat-tips to Star Trek and Planet of the Apes (with the Statue of Liberty’s torch). The result is a cool and surprisingly successful attempt to reconcile the sacred with the profane and the spiritual with the slapstick. Highly recommended, Niggun screens this Sunday (2/25) as part of programming Block Ten: International Animation/Fantasy, at this year’s Philip K. Dick Film Festival.