Djie Han Thung
Director: Djie Han Thung

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl

Monster Djie Han Thung is a guitarist, singer, & short filmmaker from the Netherlands, who has made art films, music videos, an television ads, as well as performing with the band Alabama Kids.

His animated short-short Monster (1999) is eerily designed in black & white. At only a minute length, it can't deliver a lot, but what it does is effective.

It's a brief scene of horror with the "monster" -- perhaps a yeti or sasquatch -- stalking forth from the horizon, toward a hunter in his home or cabin.

As the monster closes in with menace, the hunter shoots it full of holes. It shrinks into a quivery ball of jelly, which the hunter gathers up in a labeled jar, takes indoors, & adds to a shelf full of similar captures.

November The music video November (2008) was filmed by Djie Han Thung promoting the Dutch band Kingfisher Sky, for their debut CD release Hallway of Dreams.

This number has a folk-rock tone entirely milquetoast, technically over-produced & without much personality seeping through the studio mix.

The group's singer Judith Rijnveld lip-syncs the lyrics like Judy Collins on downers, with no trace of Dutch accent or anything else personal with the English lyrics that cleverly rhyme "me" with "me," i.e., "On a dark November day, it fell upon me/ Like a veil of grey there's a longing inside of me."

The bland lyrics attempt a certain ambiguity & could be about a girl breaking up with a lover, or a girl contemplating death or even suicide. The autumn imagery rather than winter doesn't reinforce it, & in general the film has nothing to do with the song.

The potential for tension between the syrupy-sappy ultra-commercial folkiness, & the vaguely dark lyric, could've seriously suited Djie Han Thung's art-film style -- as he understands both music, & horror, having made the highly poetic horror short Between the Stars (1998).

But this one finds him not even trying; it's an insipid three & three-quarters minutes of generic band video. The musicians are shown playing in the woods, big woop. Judith saunters through the trees as she moves her lips, pretending to be singing.

Grow Up Cool Down A half-minute promotional film for Greenpeace, Grow Up Cool Down; aka, Mensenleven (Human Life) (2007) has a great deal of the eeriness of Thung's Lovecraftian Between the Stars though unfortunately subjugated to advertisement.

It opens with an historical photograph of the Uppsala Glacier in Argentina in 1928, a strange photo of the flat white expanse of ice with a baby on a blanket in the foreground.

How a glacier would be an appropriate place for a naked baby picture is never answered; the photo seems real, it has to speak for itself.

The photo is strange enough. But Thung brings the image to life. The baby begins to stand & is transformed into a child of perhaps six. He turns around & addresses the camera -- lectures the viewer rather. He speaks of the great age of the glacier, which is now melting away due to global warming.

As he tells of the history & loss, he ages first into a teenager then young man (as the film slowly transitions from vintage black & white to full color) & then into an old man, as someone born in 1928 would now be.

He warns that he will no longer be alive when the glacier is gone, but many of us will be. Throughout, in the background, the glacier is disappearing. That it's a commercial message makes the film trivial, & the narrated text frankly makes Greenpeace seem smarmy & holier than thou & thus unworthy of anyone's contributions. And yet the imagery of an odd old photograph coming to life is extraordinary.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl

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