Oswald Iten's “The Age of Emptiness” edits together shots from The Age of Innocence (Martin Scorsese, 1993) set to the familiar soundtrack of Taxi Driver (Scorsese, 1976), creating new meaning in the contemporary context of social distancing. As we leave social distancing further behind us, I tried to create something new; this time, by setting numerous shots from I Am Love (Luca Guadagnino, 2009) to the musical theme that accompanies Madam Olenska (Michelle Pfeiffer) in The Age of Innocence. This is how I tried to bring to the surface the longing that inhabits Guadagnino’s film, combining images of spaces, food, nature, letters and more, with human touch.
What drew me to Iten's work was its attention to details, the respect it affords them and the emphasis it places on their narrative significance. It is interesting to think of the underlying, hidden stories within every film, stories that are perhaps unconnected to the primary narrative, stories that are concealed between close ups of food, flowers, hands, gestures. The realization that these shots take up such a large portion of the film's runtime highlights their importance, their impact on the viewers, and above all – their beauty and the emotions they evoke.
I chose to adapt the structure of Iten's work to the study of a film that for me triggered different – but not unrelated – associations in the context of the pandemic. If Scorsese's film, according to Iten, depicts a story of emptiness, Guadagnino's film adds to that a tragic but almost child-like longing for closeness. After many lockdowns, my own need to be closer to others was felt but almost unrealizable, as both internal and external distance took hold of my surroundings.
The result came after a lengthy editing process, which put me in a trance-like state. I tried to produce an experience of movement, which would convey something of the passion hidden in the small details, the desires concealed beneath the surface of ordinary objects and gestures. I was moved by the thought that it might be possible, by connecting the many fragments from the film, to tell a larger story, an almost-universal story.
Lia Dekel is a filmmaker and an undergraduate student at the Steve Tisch School of Film and Television, Tel Aviv University, studying in the school’s honors track. Since 2021 she has written and made video essays for the Israeli online film journal ‘Off Screen.’ Her films have participated in festivals around the world. In 2021 she represented Tel Aviv University as a judge at the EUFA festival. Since 2023 she is one of the organizers of a film club for young cinephiles at the Tel Aviv Cinematheque.