Year Released: 2012
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 16 minutes
Click to Expand Credits:
Michael Hayes’ short film If A Tree Falls opens with a quote from Albert Camus, “I think my life is of great importance, but I also think it is meaningless.” The short then gives brief looks into the lives of three different characters: a preacher (Steve Stanley), a drag queen (Deandre DeVour) and a blonde woman (Leanna Garrison). Each is in preparation; the preacher practicing his scripture reading, the drag queen getting dressed up and the blonde setting up a camera to take photos of herself in various stages of undress.
A standard narrative, connecting the three, does not exist. Instead, it all comes back to that opening quote, as we question which aspects of their day are to be seen as meaningless, perhaps, and which are of great importance. In one view, the preparations are the meaningless aspect, as the greatness is what will be found after the short finishes. On the other view, what is after the short is meaningless, as the preparations are the moments of great importance that set up what is to come.
And while I’m sure there are even more perspectives you could take on it, I like to think of it as the latter. What comes after the film is outside of the characters’ individual control; they set the wheels in motion, and it is in this beginning that they are of the greatest importance. After that, it’s all open to individual whim and interpretation, which could be meaningless. Much like the creation and subsequent viewing of the short film itself.
But maybe I’m seeing something that isn’t there in an effort to rationalize what I’ve seen, and why it was even presented in the first place. Which is part of the fun of it all. It could be something, everything, or nothing. I’m just going to tell you what it is saying to me, but I can’t definitively say what it truly is.
Well, beyond the technical and the obvious, that is. It is certainly a short film, more visual poem than narrative, and it is well-made. The imagery is composed in alluring ways, giving the eye something more to appreciate than just a “simple one shot.”
Your appreciation of If A Tree Falls will rest, however, in both your patience and interest in “reading” the short film. If you just want a story, with straightforward dialogue and three acts, this is probably not something you’ll find too interesting. It is definitely on the artier side of cinema, which is not necessarily the easiest sell for an audience. If you’re not looking to engage, this could be three people filmed, the great importance implied by their being chosen as the focus for the short, signifying absolutely nothing in a meaningless visual display. Which, frankly, means the short works no matter how much you appreciate it. Or, at least, Camus had a point.
This film was submitted for review through our Submission for Review system. If you have a film you’d like us to see, and we aren’t already looking into it on our own, you too can utilize this service.
Posted on July 8, 2013 in Reviews by Mark Bell
If you liked this article then you may also like the following Film Threat articles:
- A TOUT DE SUITE
- ON THE HORIZON
- HBO IS PREACHING
- IF A TREE FALLS: A STORY OF THE EARTH LIBERATION FRONT
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