When the melody is just right in "The Swan Song," the bomb in the young man’s backpack explodes.
London – “Wouldn’t it be beautiful to have a swan song of our own? A ‘Swan Lake’ of our own? telling our own story, speaking on our behalf and deconstructing the story of our own lake?” were the thoughts that came to me while watching and analyzing the 2019 short film “The Swan Song.”
The film, devoid of any dialogue, is director Yazid El Kadiri’s third. El Kadiri is currently working on a documentary with Al Jazeera.
The movie’s story consists of a young man walking in the tiny streets of the old medina (walled city) in Fez, Morocco; he walks into a big old traditional house that was turned into a center for Cross Cultural Studies.
The movie’s sole character walks around the house, up and down, around and around, until he finds a group of musicians that plays with. When the melody is just right, the bomb in the young man’s backpack explodes.
Viewed in much of the film from the back, the young man has been holding onto the backpack dearly and frustratedly sometimes. His looks were meek, but his steps were steady. It seemed like a walk towards the unknown, towards one’s own self. He was lost, but he acted like he was sure of his destination, as if he knew what was going on inside and outside of himself.
The title, “Swan Song,” took me straight away to the tunes from “Swan Lake,” a Russian ballet composed by Pyotr Tchaikovsky in the late 1800s, to the graceful waltz in Act I, to the playful “Dance of the Cygnets,” to that innocent music—especially because the look on the young man’s face is calm and rather peaceful.
Understood as a tremendously artistic show of the endless battle between good and bad, the ballet scenario was fashioned from Russian and German folk tales and tells the story of Odette, a princess turned into a swan by an evil sorcerer’s curse.
The young man in “The Swan Song” was moving through an imaginary landscape, through a beautiful image and promising colors. The people were wearing different masks, without showing symbols of good or bad, giving the film a flat dramatic structure.
I considered the dance as a demonstration for the binary oppositions possible in the plot. But wouldn’t it be more meaningful to have a ballerina dancing freely to the “Swan Lake” songs showing how suppression and conservative ways of thinking and living are smothering her beautiful “swan” lady’s neck.
Singing or playing a tune in harmony seems to be extremely difficult at times. Even if that harmony is reached, keeping it alive and true is the main test of sustainability, personally and collectively. “The Swan Song” was beautifully tragic and the tune was lost, like the key to a drawer where the story is “hidden” in hopes of being found some day.