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Epsilon (Rolf de Heer, 1997) aka Almost Alien, Alien Visitor; Ulli Birve (She), Syd Brisbane (The Man), Alethea McGrath, Chloe Ferguson, Phoebe Ferguson; drama, thriller, sci-fi; shot in Flinders Ranges

Epsilon (Rolf de Heer, 1997) aka Almost Alien and Alien Visitor is the most didactic of de Heer's fourteen films (at the time of writing – the fifteenth is imminent). I'd like to able to say it was his first after film school (but it was his sixth) because it's so amateurish. The script sounds like something written by an idealist activist in his early 20s (de Heer was prolly about 45 when he wrote it). And he seems to give little direction to the two actors (in the Australian release – there are more in the Miramax version) who are projecting across the footlights. As one of them is representing a being who is infinitely intellectually superior, it's not appropriate. Not to mention the conventional plot: boy gets girl – and lotsa kids. A happy ending not at all in keeping with the film's ideology. The strengths of the film are elements not at all under directorial control, and barely even in its writing: the use of (and I admit I don't have the appropriate technical knowledge) what I'll have to call time-lapse photography. It's the key element – and it is quite fascinating.

In some ways, the eagerness to get the message home pushes the film closer to preaching than drama, but the often breathtaking visual and musical fusion comes to the rescue. Using time lapse photography, de Heer gives us a new perspective on our world, through the eyes of an alien. Andrew L. Urban, Urban Cinefile.

Garry Gillard | New: 23 October, 2012 | Now: 4 April, 2020