The typical portrait of time is rigid and relentless: the gears of a stopwatch turning in mechanistic precision, or an hourglass and its slow, inevitable passing. We think of time as an absolute, this fixed, inflexible thing that starts at the beginning and, step after step, inches closer to an inevitable end.

Simon Feat’s Passage captures a completely different aspect of time. Time here is cyclical and vast, operating on scales grand and small. One moment, we’re in geological time, mountains rising from the sea and falling away like lungs filling with breath. Soon, the ground has steadied, and now nature is the one breathing, trees springing up and tumbling down in the span of seconds. As the sun lowers in the sky, the world’s rhythms continue to slow, and Feat revels in the beauty of shadows stretching across a field, and flowers craning to follow the sun.

Once the sun sets (with a satisfying flare), the scales change again. The camera zooms past the landscape and into the cosmos, where celestial objects follow their own cycles and their own natures. Adrift in the sky, away from the anchoring landscapes, the cycles of the film’s first half, and the time scales they represent, seem impossibly remote.

Passage ties those scales together with a subtle story, one you could almost miss if you’re just letting the film wash over you (which is tempting with any animation this lovely). The shift in view is also the journey of a cat’s spirit, passing from its earthly routine and rejoining the cosmos. By connecting the passing of the soul with a shift in perspective, Feat’s film is both soothing and reassuring. Nothing in it ends, exactly; it just changes its place in the ongoing pattern.

 

PASSAGE

dir: Simon Feat

syn: When the sun goes down, terrestrial activity slows down, cools off, and falls asleep. The stars appear in the deep black sky and the short cycles of terrestrial life give way to cosmic eternities. That is the moment chosen by a tiny soul to leave the Earth.



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