I know some people think I’m daft for having fallen in love with the short Decelerators but I really do think it’s a stunning piece of filmmaking. I will concede that on a technical level there isn’t anything special, but frankly there doesn’t have to be, rather it’s the story and the script that shine.
Now at this point I’m going to discuss the film, all five minutes of it, with spoilers and that sort of thing, as well as the plot of the off Broadway musical Happiness which is a blood brother of it. If you don’t want to know what happens don’t read what follows.
The story of Decelerators concerns a group of friends who are unhappy that time is slipping away. They want to stretch time and enjoy life more. After various attempts at slowing time they come up with a decelerator, a device which will effectively stop time and allow them to remain literally in one moment. Each member of the group then goes about creating perfect moments in which to slip for what is implied to be eternity. The film talks about how everyone was struggling not to be the last person left. The film ends with all but one of the decelerators removed from time. The last woman standing then chooses to go normally through time.
I was moved by the end of the film. Something about people trying to find the perfect moment to stretch into infinity touched me and made me think. What is it about the desire to have a moment last forever that is so universal?
I love that from a philosophical stand point the film makes you reflect on what is life all about. Is life simply a search for that one moment of bliss or is it something more? The split in the film at the end- of all of the people finding their one moment of bliss and staying there and the one woman left behind continuing on to the end is a perfect reflection of life- it shows the quest of those who are truly living every moment of life, those trying to find something greater and it shows those who live in the past- since at the end of the film everyone but one is living in the past.
Who is more alive? Could it be that the one person left is experiencing bliss simply by living? After all she smashes her decelerator and walks off from a lonely alley into the life of the street. What of those people now stuck in the past, doomed to repeat one moment over and over again forever? Is that truly bliss?
After seeing the film I was struck by the similarity, after a fashion, to the Off Broadway musical Happiness. That show had a bunch of people on a subway discovering that they are dead and that their afterlife was to be the best experience of their lives replayed for eternity- a baseball game with dad or meeting a lover for the first time. They could choose any moment and that was where they would stay.
Given the choice I would rather take the moment of bliss in Happiness over the one in The Decelerators since I’d be able to choose from a life time of moments. I mean with Decelerators I’d have to hope that there was no better moment or that this moment was really better than some past moment-what if I chose wrong? (and aren't the best moments the unplanned ones?)
The mind boggles. The possibilities of what would I do, or what should we do spin out...it's amazing how a five minute film can get you thinking.
Why is The Decelerators a great film? Because the film gets you going. It forces you to ponder what choice would you make or alternately where would you have stopped time in the past. This wondrous five minute film forces you to re-examine your life and ponder what you want from it. The Decelerators is a great film because it forces you to do more than just watch and go that is nice before going on to the next thing… it forces you to ponder, even for a moment the question of what would you choose? The Decelerators is great because it forces your life not to be unexamined, which in this day and age is a very rare thing to find anywhere let alone at the movies.