Originally a 55 minute film for BBC released in 1992, Alex Cox had hoped to expand it into a full length feature film but BBC was not interested. However in 1993, Japanese investors gave Alex $100,000 to shoot the film but the film went over budget allowing no funds for production. Alex decided to make The Winner (1996) in order to get funds which worked and he was able to complete Death and The Compass in 1996. See more »
Let's just say I'm looking for a more rabbinical explanation.
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interesting--but the short film smokes the feature
Though "Death and the Compass" was reworked into a feature from a short project--and shows telltale signs of this--it might have succeeded better if only director Alex Cox had been content to allow the film's sound to come through clearly. The film has some great images and performances as well as funky avant-garde elements to both the visuals and story structure. However, when you're doing all that, you can only get yourself in trouble by also monkeying with the sound; here the dialogue is sometimes garbled, sometimes muffled, and sometimes mumbled (pick your poison).
Based on the Jorge Luis Borges short story of the same name, "Death and the Compass" follows a detective who has chosen an "intuitive" path of detection, finally risking losing himself deep in a labyrinth of speculation as he attempts to guess, second-guess, and out-guess the criminal pattern unfolding before him. Unfortunately the film, largely due to the sound trouble, ends up nearly as jumbled as the story. The film is commendable for its referencing of many other Borges stories, but ultimately it leaves one wishing for a great deal more cohesion.
One can look to Lars von Trier's "The Element of Crime" as a film that was, both in terms of story and stylistic flair, a comparable but far more successful venture. More obviously, one can look to Paul Miller's excellent "Spiderweb," a short film with a sort of "Guy Maddin" feel. "Spiderweb" is also based on Borges' "Death and the Compass" and stars Nigel Hawthorne. It is included on the DVD release of Cox's film (but somehow there is no reference to "Spiderweb" on the IMDb!).
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