1982 is an insightful short film from writer and director Jeremy Breslau. 1982 is primarily a tragic childhood narrative spliced together with a good feel parenting story. Overall this film shines in its approach to dramatic storytelling, and in its eye catching use of the camera.
1982 tells the story of Zach, an adult male novelist, who unfortunately as we meet him is suffering from a severe case of writers block. Zach lives together with his wife and his son. Zach’s son, a frightened young boy, propels the story when he sneaks into his parent’s room after a nightmare. After our protagonist Zach tucks him back in bed, the series of events trigger in Zach the flashback of a lifetime.
We, the viewer are transported back into 1982 as Zach reminisces about his time as a young child. We observe as the bitter bickering and fighting between his parents shape the man we saw just moments before.
Through its plot 1982 essentially showcases the breaking apart of a family through the eyes of a child. The ups and downs of a marriage, and the clashing and arguments of two individuals falling out of love are showcased realistically throughout the films narrative. These scenes, are meshed with segments such as Zach’s 10th birthday or his daily bath giving them a somewhat “loss of innocence” touch. At moments these segments can appear frightening or depressing as it is revealed that Zach despite his age, is completely aware of the impending doom of his family unit and is more than willing to delay it through any means necessary.
These segments play off seamlessly like scenes from Terrance Malick’s Tree of Life or Alfonso Cuarón’s Children of Men with help from a fabulous musical score that plays in sync with amazing camera work utilizing a one shot technique. Though there a recognizable cuts and transitions in the story, both elements work well together in achieving an aesthetic feeling that mirrors a person reminiscing about their past.
Jeremy Breslau states, “I wanted to explore the transitional period in childhood when we begin to realize that our world is a lot less secure than we thought it was. I was also interested in how strong childhood memories can unexpectedly bubble to the surface and influence our choices as adults.” Judging purely on the finished product, I must say Breslau achieved his vision. Running at 11 minutes, Breslau artfully displays what one can only imagine it is like to be a child in such an environment.
The artistry of the story, camera work, and music are not without the amazing performances put on by the film’s cast. Though they in some parts serve more as arguing voices, the parents played by Kerry Knupe and Kevin Michael Wash put on quite an emotional performance that goes far to cement the themes of the short. Jakob Wedel, who plays a young Zach performs flawlessly in his portrayal of an emotionally scarred child.
For those looking to explore the delicacy of the child psyche or the emotional roller coaster that is divorce 1982 is one to checkout. The film will not only please your cinematographic eye but may also make you shed a tear.
INTERVIEW with Jeremy Breslau (Director/Writer)
First, who is Jeremy Breslau?
I am a writer/director/producer who studied film and literature at Boston University and received my MFA in screenwriting from USC's School of Cinematic Arts. I have wanted to write and direct movies since I was a small boy.
How did you become a filmmaker?
I became a filmmaker - always a work in progress by the way - by studying literature and writing, and the works of the masters - Kurosawa, Kazan, Wyler, Lean, Kubrick, Tarkovsky, to name a disparate few.
What inspired this short?
I was inspired by the idea of trying to capture the feeling of a mind drifting through a memory in a way that conveyed that experience with emotional accuracy, and I wanted to capture the time that marks the twilight of our childhood when we realize our parents our fallible individuals, and families don't always act as a unit.
Any interesting set stories?
Certainly. Our outstanding lead actress, Kerry Knuppe, was so committed to her truthful portrayal of the mother, Melissa, that every take we shot of the breakfast scene, unbeknownst by me, she took a B-26 vitamin. As the scene was complicated by the sheer technicality of it, by the time we were done, she must've been very healthy! This is obviously not recommended, but I just wanted to highlight her commitment. She is wonderful in the film.
What is it like film making now after having made this film? Has your approach changed?
After making 1982, I am more keenly aware than ever of the need for mountains of preparation, if only, and perhaps counter-intuitively, to allow for improvisation. By this I mean that with a plan, you'll always have the baseline covered, and as a filmmaker, you can be freer to diverge and respond to the moment. That said, my approach remains the same -- to do as much homework as possible to make sure that we are always servicing the emotional moment, from the look of the film to the performances, and that we are being as honest as possible so that an audience can relate on multiple levels.
Do you have any projects lined up for the future?
I am fortunate in that I have multiple feature projects lined up, the first one being a dramatic thriller, The Chaplain, which I will be making with the same extraordinary filmmakers as 1982.
Any advice to filmmakers?
To keep going, to keep striving to tell stories from the heart, to keep exploring film language, to create with love and passion, to be vital, and above all to be honest. That's advice I try to give myself at least! That and watch every movie possible, and if you can, go to a film school to learn more and meet your future colleagues.