Wax, or The Discovery of Television Among the Bees ★★★★★

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

I love movies like this that are abstract to the average viewer, but also do what they do with a single, clear purpose in able to tell their viewpoint or portray an emotion. Inland Empire does a lot of this, although you more get a sense that you know everything has a purpose for Inland than knowing what it is about. Wax is, I think, fairly straightforward of what it is supposed to be an allegory for, but the details and how it accomplishes its goal is, arguably, it’s greatest strength.

Wax is an analogy for drone strikes and new technological warfare that America is now using. The main character, Jacob, works as a person who tests new weapons to be used in the field. This comes after 5 minutes of set up about Mesopotamian Bees, and grandfathers being bee farmers and using “cinematography” to help see “the dead and their environment”. The way the movie uses this is to blend not only live action footage and archive footage, but animation as well. Wax does this almost seamlessly, going back and forth in between the live action. He uses the animation to do stuff that is impossible for him to do in real life, almost seeming like a acid-like hallucination that appears on the screen. This appears with the “language of the dead”, showing the culture and the lifestyle of the bees (or the dead, I’m pretty sure both are related in the film). As a viewer, you are fascinated by the animation on screen, enthralled by the abstract images you see on film. The journey across the sands, the garden of Eden and even in the caves are assisted by the bees that show the language and help Jacob on his journey. Jacob likes this culture and is fascinated by it at first, but gets more scared of it over time and feels like he needs to attack “his enemy”. It really shows the phobia of different cultures, of wanting to attack and assimilate anything that he is not familiar with, showing his bigotry.

The way the film interprets it as his mind is changing, and Jacob becoming almost robotic-like in figure, marching through the desert to find his common goal. But yet, the film knows this. It knows that, as a viewer, you are intrigued by the visuals, yet horrified or kept on suspense because you never know what happens next. The horror that you witness the character makes his decision to kill someone because he feels destined to destroy the enemy in able for personal gain for his own body is disgusting, and you can feel the character slip into anxiety over his decision. The images contort, having a wave-like effect, and a lot of duplicate screens of objects coming in or out of each other. You are made unsure of the character’s mental state, and his uneasiness with the targeting systems that he is testing weapons with. Once he figures he needs to have a new body, he has no remorse about setting out and destroying his target for his own personal gain. He does this because: he is a weapon and he needs to be tested in able to become more efficient, or he is a commander who needs to kill more soldiers effectively in able to rank up to a higher position in the military complex. Once he knows his task, he becomes seemingly robotic. While his voice is monotone at first, he almost becomes a descriptive narrator, describing everything that is happening around him ignoring the little amount of emotion that was present in the first place. This is combined with less shots of Jacob’s face, as he slowly turns more robotic and machine like in walking to his final victim. Blair knew that making this would make the viewers horrified to see Jacob commit a action so coldly, showcasing the complete disregard for human life, similar to a lot of military forces, especially IDF, who will kill people indiscriminately for no good reason.

The sound of this film reflects this as well, as it becomes more electronic and abstract. This does fit in with more or less the tone and visuals of the film, as it becomes as we delve into the land of the dead. However, it becomes much more abstract and has a better sense of getting into rhythm to sound more like a song that anything else, showing that it is ultimately a machine-like task. It treats it like a mundane task for Jacob, that it almost implies that he is running smoothly and calmly into battle. The way the sound flows in this film is unlike anything that I’ve ever heard in film period. There are so many different sounds throughout the entire film, and it is cool especially how it will annunciate minor sounds in the film like footsteps and bee sounds. However, unlike Domino which will just randomly switch back and forth between whispers and loud explosions often within a few seconds, the transitions feel smooth. It almost feels like a long 85 minute musical number, with abstract instrumentation of footsteps, bee noises and explosions playing throughout. This is my favourite aspect of the film, as no film I’ve ever seen does sound like this does. The bee sound is especially haunting, as it reminds you that they are always there, watching Jacob’s every move. A movie like this is a one in a million movie, a movie that can stand the test of time, even today, while still being of its time. And I don’t think I’ll ever hear sound like this ever again.

It cannot be topped.

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