USA 2005 28'
PHANTOM LIMB begins with vintage black-and-white images of disaster and destruction: a tornado, a violent storm, the felling of a giant tree. These scenes form the prologue to the story of a more private tragedy, the death of the filmmaker’s younger brother at age seven, in 1964. Jay Rosenblatt interweaves his family’s home movies with found footage from industrial films of the period to illustrate his account of his brother’s illness, his own confusion and guilt, and his parents’ unresolved grief. Proceding from this initial trauma, the film explores the experience of loss and mourning in twelve chapters carrying titles such as “Separation,” “Sorrow,” and “Rage.” In a departure from his previous work, Rosenblatt blends his trademark collages of borrowed material with video interviews in colour. The emotional intensity is enhanced through highly personal commentary as well as an evocative musical score (Arvo Pärt). Perhaps more surprising is the presence of humour, including the use of visual puns: such as an electrical experiment with lab rats which conveys “shock” both literally and metaphorically. Footage of state funerals and collapsing buildings – eerily reminiscent of 9/11 – resonates on several levels and makes the link between individual and collective grief. In one interview an amputee who suffers from phantom limb syndrome describes the pain he still feels in his missing arm. It is a form of loss in its own right, but also a powerful metaphor for the disappearance of a loved one.
Visions du Réel Nyon 2011