Choreographic Brilliance Meets Cinematic Mastery in Creature
Reviewed by Brendan Daynes
In the heart of the icy expanse, where the chilling winds whisper tales of isolation, Creature is a breathtaking marvel that melds movement and emotion into a symphony of theatrical brilliance. Crafted by the visionary choreographer Akram Khan, this film adaptation resonates with influences from Georg Büchner’s “Woyzeck” and Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein,” as it paints a compelling tale of longing, exploitation, and the resilience of the human spirit.
Nestled within the confines of an Arctic research station, the narrative unfolds around an enigmatic captive creature, embodied with unparalleled grace by Jeffrey Cirio, principal dancer of the English National Ballet. Khan’s deft hand and Cirio’s virtuosic performance seamlessly merge, etching a character that elicits both sympathy and intrigue. A poignant subplot emerges as the creature’s heart finds solace in the tender companionship of a cleaner, the beacon of kindness amidst the frigid dystopia.
The film thrives in its commitment to the absence of spoken dialogue, offering a dialogue of movement that speaks volumes. This choice underscores the universality of emotion and the eloquence of the human body. The choreography, meticulously executed, carries the weight of storytelling, as every gesture and pirouette forms a piece of the intricate narrative puzzle. Khan’s genius shines in his ability to maintain a constant current of choreography even in the background, a whirlwind of motion that enriches every frame.
The setting itself emerges as a character of its own, invoking a claustrophobic atmosphere that metaphorically mirrors the stifling control and manipulation exerted by unseen forces. In a cinematic landscape where the stage’s limitations can be transcended, the film chooses to remain within its confinement, thus enveloping the audience in a poignant sense of entrapment, echoing the central themes of state control and exploitation.
The ensemble collectively breathe life into the army’s precise choreography, weaving a chilling tapestry of authority and conformity. This stands in stark contrast to the creature’s graceful fluidity and poignant vulnerability. The choreography becomes a visual language that underscores the power dynamics and emotional turbulence within the narrative.
It’s impossible not to become entranced by the cinematography of the film, as the camera takes on a dynamic energy, gliding and soaring, encapsulating the dancers’ passion in each movement. The collaboration between the cinematographer and choreographer breathes life into the dance, making the audience feel like an active participant in the unfolding drama.
In an industry often driven by flash and spectacle, Creature remains a reminder of the profound impact that can be achieved through the pure art of movement and expression. Through its spellbinding choreography, the film captures the human experience, distilling it into a language that transcends words. As the lights dim and the world outside the Arctic station fades, the essence of this cinematic marvel lingers, a testament to the enduring power of storytelling through movement.
Creature played as part of Melbourne International Film Festival which ran in cinemas in various locations around Melbourne and also in some regional locations from 3-20 August, with a selection of films also available to be streamed online from 18-27 August. For more information on the festival visit https://miff.com.au/