A hauntingly atmospheric short film set in South Eastern Australia in 1853, Alan King’s short film Goldfield sets up a wonderful mystery. As Guillaume (Dino Marnika) warms himself by the evening campfire, he is startled by the sudden arrival of another man (Alan King), naked save for the ropes tying his wrists together. Who is this man, and why is Guillaume suddenly so hospitable? It appears that they know each other, and get along quite well, but why then is the one man tied up and seemingly wandering naked in the woods?
It’s a mystery that stays with the film through the end, and leaves itself open to a few interpretations, especially when it is revealed that Guillaume found a nice chunk of gold while out prospecting. The film could be something simple and literal, with a naked man being a naked man, or it could be something more ambiguous and philosophical.
Which I love. Goldfield manages to challenge and entice its audience, and remains open to interpretation throughout. It makes what is, in the simplest explanation a scene around a campfire, explode with gravitas. And it doesn’t matter if you know nothing about 1850s Australia, this film isn’t a history lesson; it’s about capturing a powerful human experience.
Everything about the film works, I really don’t have a criticism to levy. For a scene set around a campfire at night, it’s easy to make out who is what and where, and the naturalistic dimness adds to an atmosphere that elevates the murkiness of the narrative. Overall, Goldfield is a masterful short film.
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