Patrick Boivin’s unmistakably cinematic short film White offers up a chilly vision of a post-apocalyptic, snow-bound landscape, which is at once both futuristic and naturalistic. The film depicts the rigours of daily life encountered by the lone female survivor of an unnamed but clearly cataclysmic event, as she struggles to survive in a strange new land, once urbanised but now deserted. She is unaided but for the companionship of her treasured snowy white dog, and later, a stranger in need of care and human kindness.
It’s an atmospheric piece, with a simplistic yet effective piano score, which builds in intensity alongside the developing narrative. The colours are stark and almost monochromatic, but for the blue-tinged tones of a world which exists in a state of perpetual half-light. Many of the wide shots, which establish this cold and seemingly desolate setting, offer images of breathtaking beauty.
It is suggested that the survivors have turned to cannibalism, presenting a moral dilemma. This unpleasant necessity is forewarned by shots of frozen corpses strewn in the snow, and an ominous yet childlike voiceover informing the viewer in a profoundly matter-of-fact manner that “there was only one thing left to eat in the world… She didn’t like it, but she learned to deal with it”.
Whilst the aftermath of the hypothetical apocalypse has been showcased on film countless times, it has rarely been accomplished with such a quiet and contemplative tone, and the events depicted have seldom remained on such a fundamentally human level as they do here. There is no explanation as to what happened to bring about the circumstances depicted, for this is not the films focus.
Instead, the dual pleasures and perils of isolation and companionship are examined, as the film displays the sometimes lonesome freedom of solitude and the complicated, not always pleasant, responsibilities which our interactions with others bring, as well as the rewards they can reap.
Strikingly, this is a short that, despite its apparent bleakness, is by no means pessimistic at its core, instead seeming to spring from a deep appreciation of life and its possibilities. The film plays upon the importance of perspective, as well as the often stated yet rarely accepted concept that happiness is largely attained through choice, rather than through circumstances.
White ultimately proves to be concerned with the importance of hope, and the joy that can be derived from overcoming adversity. A frank acknowledgement of mortality, it explores the continuous, unstoppable circle of life, with a deft touch.