Ulysses (Arman Darbo) lives in Greatland, a surreal and psychedelic world controlled by a disembodied voice only known as ‘Mother’. Ulysses isn’t sure where he came from or who his father is, all he knows that Greatland is a place where people are free to be whatever they want and love whoever they want to love.
Ulysses is close to a girl, referring to her as Ugly Duck (Chloe Ray Warmoth), but he also has confused feelings for her that he thinks he’d like to explore. However, when Ulysses and Ugly Duck are put through the rituals of adulthood and Ugly Duck is sent away, Ulysses realises that he must rescue Ugly Duck so that he can be with her before it’s too late.
Greatland is a surreal film set in a fantasy world which could have been a great story of teenage love conquering all through a journey of self-acceptance and discovery. The problem is that Greatland is such a mixture of different ideas, metaphors (some subtle and some blunt) and overly complicated exposition that the result is a mess.
Admittedly there is a great visual style in there somewhere and director Dana Ziyasheva gives the audience a vision of Greatland that they are unlikely to see anywhere else. However, unless you have a very good constitution, Greatland’s bright neon colours, abstract dialogue and directionless plot may start to give some people a headache.
Ulysses does indeed go on a great journey to find his one true love, but is met along the way by Clerk (Nick Moran) a man who lives in what we may consider to be a more normal world.
Although when he explains everything to Ulysses about where he came from, what this place is and what it all means, it becomes clear that the film doesn’t even know what it’s trying to say about the place Ulysses has come from and where he’s going.
Having some kind of lynchpin to help the audience understand exactly what’s going on would have helped a great deal. However, it seems that Greatland expects its audience to know exactly what it all means and in the end the audience may just give up trying.
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