The Rill Is Speaking creates a sense of uneasiness through many cinematic means. The most prominent of which is the audio. Similar to Lynch’s Eraserhead, this film uses striking sounds to terrify the viewers and compensate for the lack of color used throughout the film. The film’s voluntary lack of color is used to show the stark contrasts between scenes, characters, or objects. A prime example is when the viewers are juxtaposed with shots between the two main characters on Facetime. The man with the bird is optimistic about life and tries to convince his friend on the other line to move out of New York City because its corruption corrupts his soul. However, we are shown a different reality when we are shown the darkness in the following shot. We are shown a man who has passed the point of finding a solution. We see a man so consumed by capitalism and the drive to work that he cannot return or even fathom a different reality. Also, the lack of color also symbolizes the lack of vibrancy and excitement in the lives of those who work at companies like this. Their daily pattern never changes, while the pressure seems to never decrease. This is the main reason for the events that occur in the film; that our human desires are never fully satiated, rather we are deprived of experiences that create a meaningful existence.
This film symbolizes the descent into madness in the corporate world and what it imposes on its employees. Specifically, two animal symbols allude to this theme. The bird we see symbolizes human freedom, which is why the man, in the beginning, is so set on “saving” it. As mentioned before, the lead character is optimistic that there is a better way and is trying to salvage any sign that proves that. Another vital animal symbol is the spider, which symbolizes death and new beginnings. The massive spider we see scurrying on the company’s floor foreshadows the boss’s death by his underling. This principle is the foundation of the Primordial Scene, in which a son kills his father to rob him of his strength. This spider eventually kills the protagonist at the end, showing that if you let a corporation operate your whole life, it will.
We see many instances of corruption throughout the company, such as the boss asking his employees to do daunting tasks that are not job requirements. The camera lurking on the floors indicates the lack of privacy throughout corporate America. We ultimately see that even though many people, just like the protagonist, slave their lives away to the Man, they can get fired in the blink of an eye. This contrast between total invasion to total isolation begs the question: why do human beings allow this to happen to them? After viewers think and let this question digest, they realize they do the same thing in their daily life. This disturbing reality makes the film so terrifying: this life is a reality for most. Even for me, I realized how much privacy I sacrifice to other companies with my devices and social media, and I do not even work at a corporation.
Overall, the film is excellent! The message resonates with me in a stronger and more profound sense than most do. If every person employed by a massive corporation watched this film, most people would come to a similar conclusion about their life and hopefully make a dire change.
The Rill Is Speaking screens as part of the Shorts Program at the Fall 2023 New Jersey Film Festival on Sunday, September 17. The film will be Online for 24 Hours and In-Person at 5 PM in Voorhees Hall #105/Rutgers University, 71 Hamilton Street, New Brunswick, NJ. Tickets are available for purchase here.