It is a muggy, chilly, wet day here in New York City. The rain and wind have mostly finished their assault on our windowpanes, leaving them with little to do but mope around the tops of trees and the little rivulets in the street. It’s the perfect scenario to curl up inside and watch something replete with atmospheric tranquility.
5:46am fits the bill. Directors Olivier Campagne and Vivien Balzi of ArtefactoryLab have crafted an eerie three minute tour through Paris. Everything is partially submerged in a surprisingly still layer of water, presumably the reason that the city is completely devoid of people. Yet that sort of narrative logic is far off from what this short is trying to accomplish. On the one hand, there is definitely a post-apocalyptic feel to this bizarre trip around Paris-as-Venice. However, the feel of dread is matched by the profound stillness of the water. Even if something terrible happened here, it’s all over – now it’s time to reflect.
The music, moreover, really pulls it all together. Brice Tillet‘s metallic and other-worldly score is absolutely essential, lending an air of the extra-terrestrial to this metropolis. It’s evocative of Antonioni’s Red Desert, industrialized sound coupled with intimidating and futuristic landscapes that send you into another dimension. The landmarks of Paris are so familiar, yet this team of filmmakers artfully transform them into something entirely unexpected. 5:46am is a testament to the power of simple cinematic devices, if used boldly and beautifully.