We may, one day, come to look upon Soudade Kaadan's The Day I Lost My Shadow as a most singular artefact, a work unlike any other. Whether or not the particulars of Kaadan's mise-en-scene will play any part in such an assessment may even then remain up for debate; it's the historical significance of this movie that will only burgeon over time. It arguably makes the movie obsolete in its present-day position, a chronicle of an ongoing event that is yet also a period piece - The Day I Lost My Shadow tells of the nervy beginnings of the current Syrian conflict, a view from within that yet benefits from hindsight. Even at its clunkiest, its most questionable, it's still a horribly poignant piece of work.
Its poetic title is not just mere poetry, as shadows really are lost, transforming a solid slice of would-be Syrian kitchen-sink realism into bluntly allegorical invective literally over the course of a single, iffy digital effect. The Day I Lost My Shadow is never less than direct, even in the process of developing this slender little piece of symbolism, whose purpose and effect are as blatant as any of Kaadan's political messages. It is thus that the movie somehow loses very little in resorting to such potentially crass imagery (and that least expected component of a modest Middle-Eastern political drama - VFX!), though gains very little too; Kaadan's method of message-making is clear, her narrative skills hard to fault, but an apparent devotion to such a clear, uncomplicated presentation of complex issues, and with a touch of mild stylistic confusion, holds it back from achieving its full intentions. Too rarely does this movie catch alight with the sheer fury of its potential, the emotive weight that several years of a country's despair should afford.
Kaadan is sensitive to this despair, to the myriad shades of despair that were only beginning to coalesce into a national expression as this devastating war began. The movie opens with futile hope and slowly trudges toward a terrain characterized only by a distinctly horrifying bleakness. There is no sign of that revitalization, that resurrection of hope that we presently all desire to return to Syria, perhaps decades down the line - features possible only in a work of such a future. Still caught up in its own prolonged demise, Kaadan's Syria becomes one of fear, darkness and emptiness, a perspective justified by the movie's gentle element of fantasy, rightly sapping out any of the hope that may have held on through the war's early days. For all the horrors Syria then knew, it could hardly have known that their relentment would yet be incomplete, six years into a thoroughly shadowless future. The Day I Lost My Shadow is far from a perfect movie - it's too unwittingly odd, and too slack to make much of that oddness - but it's a deeply incisive one. Maybe, all those decades down the line, we'll be able to look upon it as an artefact, and no longer as a reflection of reality.
Image Credit: Image.Net