Joseph Dankha’s short film Gilgamesh focuses in on one particular moment of the epic, the death of Gilgamesh’s friend Enkidu (David Petrovic), utilizing the thoughts of Gilgamesh (Jason Buhalis) via voiceover to explain his new found obsession with his own mortality. It’s a heady subject to obsess over, and as Enkidu succumbs to the sleep we all will one day experience, it sets up Gilgamesh’s resultant quest for immortality.
And as an intro or setup for a longer adaptation of aspects of the Epic of Gilgamesh from this plot point forward, the films succeeds. The use of natural lighting, coupled with the set, costume and art design sets the mood; it all builds momentum from the jump to leave you wanting to get into the rest of the story, and Gilgamesh’s quest for immortality. So how, with so much going right for the short, does it go wrong? Simple: it’s got some of the worst-looking beards I’ve ever seen.
I know, I know! It seems like a cheap shot, and if these were just slightly odd-looking beards it’d be one thing, but for all the art design this short film gets right, to have beards, at least two of them, look so horrendously fake is a major misstep. And if the beards I’m referring to are real, well I apologize to those who grew them, because it seriously looks like at least one guy is wearing dyed cotton balls on his face. Which, when you’re listening to a swelling score and ponderous voiceover, stands out all the more for its laughable nature.
Overall, this is a dynamic short film that is severely undercut by an element that is unintentionally comical, yet hard to overlook. That said, it still managed to keep up its momentum, and had me interested in seeing more, so it’s not like it didn’t succeed somewhat. It just succeeded in spite of itself.
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