Gymnasia (Chris Lavis, Maciek Szczerbowski, 2019)

When I met the young deceased boy in his school’s gymnasium…!

Today, Tuesday July 21st 2020, let’s have a look at another virtual reality artwork I have had the opportunity to see for the first time at the Phi Centre, and then several times 
again in the comfort of my room thanks to the "PHI VR TO GO" event created specifically during the quarantine. I may have seen it for the first time at the 2019 Fantasia festival 
though. Nevertheless, it is one of the most striking virtual reality films I have ever seen 
thanks to a brief but efficient mise-en-scène that comes to us!

I don’t know the world of virtual reality too well yet, but I do hope to find out all its facets in the near future. This short film fascinated me and scared me on the same level, and made me ill-at-ease when the young boy whose body seemed to be decomposing appeared suddenly before me! I wanted to flee, but I couldn’t! That is what makes virtual reality scary at certain times! What would our ancestors who had screamed when they saw that train arriving at La Ciotat say if they saw Gymnasia?

Dive into the remains of a school’s gymnasium, in which the memories of a lost childhood will revive in front of your eyes.

I found myself in that gymnasium indeed, which was lightened by a discrete window until they threw me on the stage, alone, and against my will. I begin to look desperately for help, as the feeling I get when I watch a virtual reality film is similar to the one I get during an episode of sleep paralysis. The lady finally arrives. I believe in fate, except for when I write. I am comforted for a moment right before I almost get a heart attack when the young deceased boy appears next to me, staring at me in the eyes for a long time! After a few minutes of enjoying the singing lesson I am invited to participate in, black comes to me, and I end up hungry for more once again. Although it was too short, this film is a real jewel on every level: the story, screenplay, mise-en-scène, art, emotions, and even acting! I give it four stars.

Don’t forget to let your emotions take control of you in front of a virtual reality film because they may as well surprise you!

Catch you next week for another story!


Head image: Website of the National Film Board of Canada