Pisces of an Unconscious Mind opens with a man (David Berman), dressed in a white collared shirt and tie, dangling dangerously from a cliff’s edge over the sea. As he struggles to survive, his arm begins to turn into a fish, struggling against him to dive in. We later see this is a dream (well, it’s easier to say it’s a dream for synopsis purposes), and the same man goes about his mundane existence in the real world, with both of his arms. As the short goes along, in dreamland, Armless Man is on a journey, with the help of a fisherman (Richard Manichello), that will eventually converge with Reality Man’s waking life.
Confused? Yeah, it got that way for me too, and I’ve seen the entire film. Still, the interpretation of the fish, fisherman and having limbs added or subtracted is no doubt for the individual viewer to rationalize personally, though there are hints of where we should be looking for our answers.
Moving on to the technical merit of the piece, the look, the pacing, I’d have to say that the film is mostly successful. The mundane world is sufficiently drab and uninteresting, and yet the dream world is sparse though more natural and bright. The main technical shortcoming of the film tends to be the audio. For example, dialogue around crashing waves is, as one would suspect, hard to understand and here it can get lost in the mix of piano-heavy score and ambient sounds.
Overall, Pisces of an Unconscious Mind is an interesting film that is well open to individual interpretation. It can be challenging in that interpretation, but the actual experience of watching it, if you check the need to understand it immediately at the door, can be a comfortable one.
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