By Nelie Diverlus
Imagine an otherworldly interpretation of post-colonialism, blended together with ultraviolet neons – that is Neptune Frost. With an ambiguous timeline, this film has no set date; it extends beyond dimensions that we are aware of, allowing us to suspend our disbelief of the reality we know. This story is set in Rwanda, with Neptune leading the narrative. While mourning the passing of his brother, they set out to evade sexual abuse, finding Matalusa along the way. It is a story of revolution and defiance, teaching us to lean ourselves into the movement that calls our heart.
“Imagine an otherworldly interpretation of post-colonialism, blended together with ultraviolet neons – that is Neptune Frost.”
Directors Saul Williams and Anisia Uzeyman alluringly convey the resiliency and strength of Rwanda, through such a profound story. Revolting against colonialism and brutal genocide, characters in this story express their frustrations and mourning through song and dance. This film plays both in musical and science fiction genres, fusing together to bring the culture of Rwanda to a new age dimension.
If there is one thing that is for certain, it is that this film brings Afrofuturism to life. The vibrant colours and patterns, neon makeup and accessories allude to a timeline beyond us. Vibrant blues, reds, greens and oranges collaborate together to help us envision the true concept of Afrofuturism. With a rather unique story, Neptune Frost effectively portrays complex themes and concepts through the most magical methods.
“With a rather unique story, Neptune Frost effectively portrays complex themes and concepts through the most magical methods.”
The colouring of this film is what allows it to stand out in value. As mentioned , the detail in eccentric colours in makeup and accessories has the viewer further enthralled by the story, further preventing the viewer from tearing their eyes from the screen. The strobe lights are used for attention – our concentration is peered to their movements. This is especially important, knowing there are moments of mourning and cries for help within this story. This film sets the bar in visual aesthetics – in addition to the compelling lights and overall colouring of the film, the fluid movements and choreography masterfully entrance the viewer in all of its splendour. Adding to this, the contrast of scenes of movement between moments of stillness adds incredible dynamic to this work of art.
“In addition to the compelling lights and overall colouring of the film, the fluid movements and choreography masterfully entrance the viewer in all of its splendour.”
As seen, this film plays into experimental concepts. The film does not really have an ending; the rest is up to the viewer’s interpretation. This intentional decision has both positive and negative traits attached to it: through a positive lens, this boost’s the film’s originality, as this is rarely ever seen before. It is bold, it is daring, and dismantles the standards of cinema as we know today (similar to the dismantling of colonial practices highlighted within the film). On the contrary, while this film’s message is both literally and figuratively moving, this concept of a lack of beginning and ending makes this film pretty hard to follow. Given the flow we have grown accustomed to with narrative (as well as non-fiction) pieces, this film sets us apart from what we know, launching us into a world of confusion. Otherwise, this film can be fully observed as a non-conventional piece that challenges the conventions of film that we often find comfortable.
“This film can be fully observed as a non-conventional piece that challenges the conventions of film that we often find comfortable .”
Collectively, Neptune Frost tackles systemic oppression using rather innovative methods. The visuals of this film are unlike any conventions we are accustomed to and that is what allows this film to be exceptional. The magnificent shot compositions, mirrored with a captivating concept, Neptune Frost excels in the unusual – adequately introducing us to an astonishing world of experimental filmmaking.
Editor’s Note: Neptune Frost screened at the Toronto International Film Festival ’21, as part of the Wavelengths/TIFF Next Wave programme.