A shuttle burns up on re-entry to Earth’s atmosphere following the beginning of the colonisation of Mars. After being found alive in the wreckage, astronaut Kathryn Voss is being kept in ‘quarantine’ by a top-secret government agency. I use that word loosely because in One Under the Sun a government quarantine facility consists of a stone-brick room, one school chair, and an agent wearing a boiler suit, trainers, and a mask that hangs open in front of his chin.
When first confronted with this image my face began to contort into an expression that I could never rightly explain, nor replicate, as the word ‘airtight’ drifted through my mind.
The following scene opens with a shot of someone typing on a keyboard with all the precision and deliberation of an anhydrous octopus. Apparently this mashing of keys is to determine whether Voss is faking her amnesia. Her results, as explained with the film’s cohesive and tightly focus dialogue, are as follows: “Woah. Huh. This is off the charts weird.”
One Under the Sun is incredibly bizarre. It’s a clear example of ambitions outweighing the budget. I struggle to believe that the scope the film aims for could have been achieved on its budget, even with skilful craftsmanship. Which, incidentally, is something that One Under the Sun severely lacks. Rules are made to be broken, and if films were to rigidly stick to structural and compositional frameworks we would never have anything original. With that said, there is a reason that in a close-up the actor’s eyes should be a third of the way down from the top of the frame. One Under the Sun has these uncomfortable moments where characters are dwarfed in the frame by nothing but empty space. Never used for effect, to convey isolation, for example. The camera is simply position too high.
In fact, One Under the Sun feels like a student film; a desperate attempt to make something profound, something that makes an emotional statement, so focused on that intent that the technical requirements fall by the wayside. In this instance, it’s difficult to distinguish whether something is earnest or pretentious. Out of curiosity I looked through the YouTube comments for the trailer to find comments from several of the cast members expressing their delight to have been a part of such an amazing and profound film. Maybe ‘pretentious’ is too kind.
One Under The Sun at CeX
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