On a whim one night I rented a collection of short films-- one dramatically stood out. Michael James Rowland's short film, "Flying Over Mother" tells the story of a Soviet boy's childhood introduction to that which provides for his eventual demise. Rowland's film spans the main character's life from about the age of ten in 1943, to his professional apex as a cosmonaut in the late fifties to early sixties, and finally to his death by the said profession. Meaning in the film is created through Rowland's structuring of the plot through a series of flashbacks. Rowland creates a tension between the main character situation as a cosmonaut, and the warnings of his mother in childhood. Rowland's treatment of plot structure creates an understanding of the main character that could not have been successful if the story were told chronologically. By inter-splicing the main character's moment of truth, with flashbacks of his mother's warnings, Rowland successfully creates a character of great depth and complexity. In ten minutes, Rowland shows the foundation of the main character's value system, his break from that value system, and the eventual consequences of that break-something many films have trouble doing successfully at feature length. I highly recommend this film.
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