By Naseem Ally. Amalgame is a French film based on the 2015 attacks in Paris. It centres around a woman, Marie, who in the aftermath of the attacks fears for her safety after watching the shocking scenes on the news, which takes its toll on her.
Very quickly, Marie becomes self-aware of her thoughts during a taxi ride from an Arab driver and is now in conflict with what she’s seen on the news, and what her gut feelings are telling her.
In the political climate we’re living in today, it’s refreshing to see a film covering this kind of social commentary.
Amalgame is a short film, with the story being told in a concise 15 minutes.
In a day and age, where we’re bombarded with 2 hour-long superhero movies and lengthy tv series, it’s great to watch a film from start to finish in a short amount of time.
It’s definitely nice for a change.
This film has a small cast – 3 characters, to be exact, however, it works and puts the focus on the narrative being told. It shows what actually goes through the minds of people that are affected by tragic events like this, whether directly or indirectly.
In light of the attacks, her boyfriend Hugo comforts her. Marie is clearly shaken up by the events but is too distracted by the news, that she loses sight of the fact that there is an exam to study for.
Marie cannot put this tragedy to rest and frequently lets it cross her mind, so much so Hugo has enough and resorts to turning the TV off. A valid point he raised in the film, was that ‘the media feeds themselves on stories like this – that’s how they sell’. This is very true, especially since the wake of the shocking scenes in New York on 9/11 the media’s focus towards terror has amped up tenfold.
Hugo played by Hector Manuel is a key catalyst in this film. Even though he sympathises with a distraught Marie and tries his best to console and put her fears to rest, he won’t allow her emotions to be manipulated by the consumption of mass media. This is all too common nowadays, especially with the constant stream of news feeds we receive on our phones.
Hugo brought some insight and perspective into this film. In terms of affairs pertaining to us here in the U.K, the majority of the news we are seeing as of late frequently revolves around a number of specific topics.
In particular, the two obvious ones being Brexit and immigration.
The constant circulation of news the media ‘feeds’ us, seeks to create a dreaded sense of doom and fear among the public that an imminent attack is right around the corner, heading for our doorstep.
It’s no surprise that immigration was the key selling point of the referendum, with the notion that the UK needs to close the borders to stop immigrants coming over from European shores.
I’m sure you’re all aware of what this resulted in – a Brexit campaign that led to a referendum where the majority voted to leave the EU. In 2016.
Here we are in 2019, still with no result, holding our breath like a contestant on Deal or No Deal, with protestors outside the Houses of Parliament who want a second referendum to overturn it.
What a shambles. Does anyone remember the ‘Go Home Van’?
‘Go Home or Face Arrest’. Unbelievable, Jeff.
All of these actions and campaigns have not helped at all. It continues to raise tensions and hostility, supplemented by endless dialogue in the aftermath of attacks such as the one in Paris.
These tragedies are usually followed by ‘celebrities’ and MP’s sending out somewhat questionable tweets on their thoughts and prayers to those affected. #PrayFor (insert city name and national flag emoji here)
After this, a number of think pieces are shared online from major news and blog outlets on what we need to do as a society to tackle radicalisation or, the buzzword of the minute – toxic masculinity.
It never ends. Jordan B. Peterson save us all!
This short film has managed to convey more thought on this topic, then your average 3 pm debate on Sky News anchored by a certain Miss Burley that ends up going nowhere. I think it would be great to see more prominent film producers and directors, create films of a similar ilk that focus on social commentary and are a lot more concise.
However, a concept like this would be highly unlikely to be produced by a major studio as it wouldn’t necessarily be profitable to make a film like this, which is a shame. This type of narrative is more commonly explored by indie or student filmmakers.
Marie played by Pauline Deshons held her own in this film and gave a solid display of a character torn between her perception of a certain group of people, based on what she’s seen on TV and how her own personal interactions with them, don’t reflect what she sees on her screen.
She is stuck at a crossroads. This sense of realism is brilliantly done and can be applied to any group of people or race.
Take London for example, where there is a particular focus on knife crime among young people, and predominantly BAME inner-city youths, who are frequently covered in the media. Whether consciously or sub-consciously this is making people in London feel a sense of unease on a day to day basis.
Just pick up a copy of the Metro or Evening Standard at the station and see for yourself.
With Marie’s intellect, she is wary of making any negative assumptions during her cab ride, but with the stream of news that plays on the cab radio, she feels very anxious. What if she could perhaps be the next victim?
This film does force yourself to ask some hard-hitting questions as to how influenced you are by mass media.
The frantic news footage in the film of the armoured police trucks, ambulance, and victims climbing out the Bataclan really reinforces the idea about the power that the consumption of media has over us.
To the point of making people fearful to congregate in public with friends and colleagues keeping us locked in our personal spaces like Marie, listening intently to narrations like ‘scenes of panic, carnage in different places frequented in the capital’ being spouted from a TV screen.
Amalgame is very minimal and simple in it’s aesthetic but it tells a story extremely well.
The cutaways of Paris, with the added chimes from a church bell in the distance, created an eerie ambience that leaves you to ponder how people are truly affected in the aftermath of such events.
Amalgame opens up the conversation on topics like multiculturalism and immigration, and how it all trickles down to our day to day lives. Tighter security measures at airports, location and privacy settings on smartphones, are just a few examples of this.
We are living in one of the most difficult political and social climates in history, and it doesn’t look like things are going to change any time soon.
Amalgame is a great social commentary piece and it is very much relevant today. All done in 15 minutes.
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