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The Deserted: VR (2017)

The Deserted, a film by Tsai, Ming-Liang. The artisan of cinematography approaches virtual reality, pushing the boundaries of VR film. A film produced by tech pioneer HTC Virtual Reality ... See full summary »

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Ming-liang Tsai
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Cast

Credited cast:
Shiang-chyi Chen
Kang-sheng Lee
Yi-Ching Lu
Ivy Yin
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Storyline

The Deserted, a film by Tsai, Ming-Liang. The artisan of cinematography approaches virtual reality, pushing the boundaries of VR film. A film produced by tech pioneer HTC Virtual Reality Content Centre, and co-produced with Jaunt China. The 55-minute long film's title in its original Chinese means "the Home of Lan Re Temple" and is a short ghost story stripped from a longer novel. Lan Re Temple is an abandoned temple in which ghosts and spirits dwell. Three years ago, due to poor health, Tsai moved to an abandoned ruin in the mountains with Lee Kang-sheng and began a life closer to nature, fixing up the old house, tilling the land and living with the insects, birds and other creatures. Tsai said, "We were surrounded by other abandoned and dilapidated houses. Sometimes, I get the feeling that it's not that we don't have neighbours, but that we can't see them. I told Lee Kang-sheng, 'We are living at Lan Re Temple." The Deserted stripped away traditional film techniques and is presented...

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Details

Country:

Taiwan

Release Date:

September 2017 (Italy) See more »

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Color:

Color
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User Reviews

 
Lost in translation
9 February 2019 | by j-m-d-bSee all my reviews

The Deserted was shown in the Eye film museum in Amsterdam. I am quite a fan of Ming-liang Tsai so of course I did not pass up the opportunity to experience this, as I like his slow style in filming very much.

As with most of his work, this is very much a personal document. It is shot near the house he lives in with Kang-sheng Lee. And like in a lot of his films, not very much 'happens', the action is implied or takes place in the viewers' mind. So it is fairly static and dreamlike, a collection of scenes that is more like a situation than a narration.

Without going into too much detail, I don't think Tsai's style translates that well to this format. The viewer is placed on a fixed location in a 3D environment. You can look around, but not move around. Interesting at first, but I did become aware of some drawbacks.

In Tsai's films, he frames the characters, very often in a static shot. He chooses the shot and its composition. He uses close-ups a lot, allowing you to study the actor's faces and pick up on very subtly acted-out emotions. In The Deserted, there is no fixed frame, so while the locations are intriguing in themselves, there is no composition in what you see. The actors are are least several feet away from the camera, and combined with the relatively low resolution of the VR headset, there is little or none of that subtlety going on.

Watching his films in a darkened cinema you can sit back, become disembodied and go with the flow. Sitting in a rotating chair with a fairly heavy headset did not bring me in that relaxed state of mind, something I heard from other visitors as well. I was too aware of my environment, even though I tried to immerse myself.

It was an interesting experience but the VR did not add much, in my opinion most of the material would have worked better in a traditional format.


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