The Alchemy of Sulphur
“The purpose of this book is to incite a series of tiny riots in the imagination.” -Antero Alli
The same could be said of director Alli’s fourteenth feature length film “The Alchemy of Sulphur”, premiering on November 7th 2021 in Portland Oregon.
Antero has said that his films are a marketing nightmare, because he doesn’t fit into any genre. Well, this isn’t a movie, it’s a journey. Perhaps it’s time for a new genre.
What is Alchemy? I’ve long been curious.
‘The Art of Transmuting Metals’, especially Lead into Gold; Constant Flux of creational energies: “Things” take form; “Things” dissolve.
Fusion of Opposites: Creating Something New, Different, Unique, that is Alchemy. Antero’s work is part of this cultural shift. This is “Alchemical Cinema”. He gently tweaks our perceptions, and we emerge, changed. This alchemy is physical, emotional, archetypal. For me, watching is a visceral experience. I can taste it.
I experience nature as continual alchemy. Alchemy is happening inside my skin. Digestion is Alchemy. Humans, co-creating with nature in our gardens. The Sun, a vast alchemical furnace, fusing Hydrogen to make Helium. Wow!
So, I’m ready for this movie. Or am I?
Here unfolds a rhythmic, pulsating, hypnotic journey. The price of admission is my committed imagination. Without that, I may watch this movie, but not really see, feel or hear it.
The pace is slow. Looking for an action flick? Sorry!
“The Alchemy of Sulphur” is akin to slow food. Slow Cinema takes time to prepare, has enticing aroma and color, welcomes you to contemplatively chew, enjoy, digest; be nourished and transformed.
It’s sumptuously filmed: “Real Life” is black and white. “The Story within the Story”, soft toned full color.
Camera work is intimate, inviting us into the characters’ lives. I feel like I have walked into a van Gogh painting. Sometimes messy or blurry, as in real life.
Stream of Consciousness, Interweaving Stories, Welcoming in your Willing Imagination. “The only difference between the two stories is that one actually happened, while the other never happened at all.” But, which is which?
There’s a lot of soundtrack in this movie! Antero suggests that we watch it on a big screen. I will add: Good speakers or headphones are recommended.
It’s a sonic collage, moving us from foreground to background, blurring the boundary between “dream” and “waking reality”. Music resonates, nature hums, shaman sings with people’s energies. Charming choreography.
A lot of the music is by Antero and partner Sylvi Alli. I find myself wanting more. Listening good music may sometimes make you wonder who invented music notes.
My first time viewing, I can’t always follow the story. Sometimes the dialog feels stilted. Deliberately jarring my attention?
Content: Deep, Rich, Demanding. It isn’t passive, I have to work for it.
At times spoken like incantation, Intention penetrating deeply. Watching two, three, four times, I get more. I fall in love. Certain parts “make sense” on rewatching.
It evokes spirit in nature, in a time when many people relate to nature only through machines. “The disease lives in the roots, and feeds on the leaves.” The Botanist loves this movie. Tree-loving Phineas, a dendrologist, says “Who am I to make a difference?”, and then does it anyway. Part of the alchemy is this: Burning away that which is stagnant and non-essential catalyzes in us the fire to make a difference.
The Herbalist is intrigued by the relationship between sulphur and consciousness. The psychological imbalance of the central character parallels the sickness in the dream forest which she writes about. She alchemizes her personal transformation as she expresses her dream through writing.
The Homeopath recognizes the central metaphor. Sulphur burns in nature, while in homeopathic dosage, it’s used to treat inflammation. I looked up homeopathic sulphur, and found the following associated with the Sulphur “type”: ‘Self-centered, opinionated, critical…’ This somewhat describes the protagonist. She oscillates between her unowned, unconscious polarities. I can relate.
Watching to the end, we partake of her evolution.
Antero juxtaposes people who are self actualizing with those who aren’t, yet. They all get to know themselves in new ways.
She says: “You didn’t answer my question.” He answers: “I didn’t care for your question.”
Alchemical Tradition tells us: “All of Nature is Renewed by Fire”. Antero writes “Most of my movies are veiled autobiographies, oneiric docufictions, giving narrative and poetic form to my internal landscape interacting with, and being acted on by, real world events.
Living in Portland Oregon, Antero’s life has been touched by recent forest fires. His new film “The Alchemy of Sulphur” is one response. Can a film incite creative change, bringing us into deeper contact with what really matters to us?
Antero’s Filmography http://www.verticalpool.com/filmography.html
Antero’s Artistic Vision http://www.verticalpool.com/aavision1.html
Watch “The Alchemy of Sulphur” on youtube: https://youtu.be/qpmhE2aFZv4