The segment of Nostalgia for Light (2010) that we were asked to analyse starts off with a searing shot of a giant telescope. We watch as the telescope position itself and the overhead hatch opens up to reveal the sky above. We’re then met with images of the moon close up as a somber score plays in the background.
The shot of the moon close up then fades into the silhouette of branches rustling, which brings us to the inside of a typical kitchen, showing us the trees outside the window. We are then shown mundane images such as a napkin on the kitchen table, an old radio, a chair, a bed cover etc. while a narration over the top of these images tells us about who I assume is the protagonist and his love of astrology.
The beautiful images of the telescope and the moon are presented to us in a poetic fashion. We are shown these items without any narration, they are simply presented to us as we observe. I think perhaps the film maker intended, with these starting shots, to make us feel dwarfed by what we were presented with. Especially in the sequence with the gigantic telescope, which is presented to us in a close up shot, we feel tiny in comparison to this giant piece of equipment. It makes us realise how small we are in comparison to the vast universe above us.
The next scene showing us very mundane household objects then brings us back into the realm of typical life. The protagonist talks us through his love of science fiction and how ordinary his childhood existence was. After this panning of household objects we are then shown a close up of swirling dust in the air. The narration then turns to the impacts of the Pinochet dictatorship; the narrator speaks about how they were swept into a revolutionary tide, all while the swirling dust evokes imagery of an ocean tide.
Later, when the ramifications of living in a devastation zone are discussed we are shown what looks to be astrology equipment surrounded by junk and swirling dust. As the narrator talks about how the Chilean astrologers continued to work, aided by foreign colleges, and how much astronomy means to many in Chile the camera pans up towards the opening in the roof (which is at that point closed) and the dust seems to clear. It’s a beautiful moment of clarity where we realise how important the skies are to the narrator.
I think the imagery works fantastically with what is being told to us by the narrator. When he is speaking about his ordinary and unremarkable childhood we are shown ordinary, almost boring, objects; yet when the narration turns to more interesting matters the imagery changes. I think this works very effectively to get the message across.