With a 72 hour trailer now available, here’s the story of a film that will take you a month to watch – but only one person will ever see the full movie.
None of this is made up.
Swedish Director Anders Weberg is making a film that will last for 30 days. Ambiancé will then be shown once, it’ll be screened simultaneously in different countries across the world, and then it’ll be destroyed. It will create a new record as the longest film ever made that doesn’t exist.
Furthermore, Ambiancé will mark the end of Weberg’s time making films. He began his career directing music videos and then moved on to creating experimental films. In total, he’s made over 200 films for over 20 years. But as time’s gone on, he’s increasingly felt that he has little left to say. As such, he decided to produce one final film that really makes a statement.
Ambiancé isn’t just five or six hours long. It’s 720 hours of Weberg’s memories and emotions, conveyed through abstract, symbolic scenes. Every single part of him is in the film in some way: his experiences as an artist, the people he’s met, the love he’s shared, the places he’s been and the hopes he’s had. It’s all connected emotionally rather than chronologically. Weberg describes Ambiancé as a non-linear account of his time making films since “space and time is intertwined into a surreal, dream-like journey.”
It’s a very visual expression of his thoughts and feelings too. The sheer length of the film means that the pace is much slower so every scene has more visual resonance. Everything is set to an atmospheric, ethereal soundtrack. There’s no dialogue, no script and no straightforward plot. Weberg wants his audience to think about and be moved by the pictures he paints of his own emotions.
Although he produces a rough outline of every scene, he often improvises depending on his mood. He frequently captures glimpses of light and rearranges it in post-production so that it reflects the emotions he wants to express. In fact, many of the superimposed images and melting effects he creates in post-production highlight the surreal nature of the film.
There’ve been many deviations from his initial plan. The biggest change he made was in 2014 after his son died from a drug overdose. He completely re-cut the first trailer to include scenes that showed the depth of his grief. The trailer received a huge amount of interest, gaining 1.2 million views, before – yep – he deleted it.
Thematically, Ambiancé deals with life, power, escape, death and love. The 2016 trailer focuses on two performers dressed in black and white representing two competing forces. It’s open to interpretation but it seems like they represent life and death. At one point, white ties up black and this potentially shows a struggle with death. Black then buries white and appears to be triumphant. But white re-emerges and in the end the two embrace.
Weberg appears to be suggesting that eventually we need to accept that death will happen, or at least that’s one reading of it. All in all, the 2016 trailer is 72 hours long; that’s only a tenth of the runtime. Weberg revealed that the final film will include over 100 actors, performers and dancers, all using their bodies and expressions to convey his memories and feelings.
Here’s that trailer, if you’ve got a bit of spare time…
The whole thing is entirely Weberg’s vision. He’s writing, directing and editing the film almost entirely on his own, except for a little help with post-production. Weberg even funded the film himself to make sure that no one interferes. Ca you imagine the studio notes? Still, self-funding is a situation he’s very familiar with. He’s produced all of his films with very little money. Ambiancé is another labour of love. Weberg’s been filming seven to eight hours of footage every day for the last few years.
But, for him, the act of destroying the movie is as important as creating it. It’s been a frequent theme in his works. In 2006, he created several experimental, emotionally stirring films, shared them online and then deleted them.
The whole point of Ambiancé is that it will be the longest film ever made that doesn’t exist. Everything’s digital now; it’s much harder to permanently delete anything. No one really thinks about it. Even in 2002, Weberg noticed that his ten-year-old son just got rid of movies, games and music without considering what he was doing.
It’s a complete contrast to the analogue era where everyone was very aware that once something was gone, it could never physically be brought back. In producing Ambiancé and then destroying it, Weberg plans to bring a digital film into the analogue era. Most importantly, he wants to show that deleting a film can be a very emotional act. Permanently erasing a film that’s so long and means so much to him really emphasises this.
The sheer length of Ambiancé means that no one will be able to watch all 720 hours of the film in its one and only screening. Weberg will be the only person who sees every frame. Different people will end up watching different parts of his vision when the film is shown in galleries across the world. Weberg eventually plans on travelling across the world and deleting every physical copy. The only thing that will remain are a few photographic stills.
Weberg wants Ambiancé to show the beauty of the ephemeral. A major idea behind the film is that even though it physically exists for a fleeting moment of time, its spirit will live on in the memories of those who’ve seen it. Weberg sees it as echoing the way many reconcile themselves to the death of someone they’ve loved.
Ambiancé will leave behind a legacy in its record-breaking endeavour. But in the end, the real beauty of the film is that it will primarily exist in the fragments that people remember.
Lead image: © Anders Weberg
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