“Tabernacle” is a poetic montage, which includes grainy, slowed down images of rocky mountainous terrain, extremely close-up and slightly out of focus shots of human bodies, and exhibits from the Mormon Tabernacle. On the soundtrack, a man explains the elaborate system by which the Mormon church and the Tabernacle itself are said to mirror the structure of the human body. We also hear a man and woman having a conversation of astonishing intimacy in near whispers. As we see close ups of a hand moving across skin, exploring, we hear comments from the two like “there are so many airplanes,” in which they aren’t really saying much, but their voices reveal an intense experience of vulnerability and trust. These whispers are mixed with birds and ambient sounds; the couple seems to be deeply into their shared sensory experience.
These sequences, which seem to convey a direct, personal experience of the body, are juxtaposed with the bizarre Mormon belief system which attempts to categorize and explain the body as a part of the cosmos, which accompanies images of the Tabernacle’s kitschy lifesize dioramas of the Garden of Eden.
This short film contains many, many sequences with beautifully assembled juxtapositions of images and sounds, which are assembled in a stripped down, restrained cinematic language, as if the filmmaker, like the man and woman in the film, is trying to create a quiet space where the viewer can breathe deeply and feel the deep mysterious thrill of being a human being and inhabiting a body. The final shot, in which a shaky, handheld camera records a man running into the ocean waves, seems to speak of the film moving through a camera at 24 frames per second as being like the human heart, a fragile mechanism which sustains consciousness, love, desire, sensuality, and all of human existence.