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56 Ways of Saying I Don’t Remember

January 16, 2014 by   

I hope it doesn’t feel like cheating if I begin to take almost everything I post these days from the NYT Op-Doc series. There is some seriously amazing stuff on there and it really keeps falling in line with everything else I have been watching and enjoying. Take this video for instance. I recently watched a feature film by this filmmaker, Alain Berliner. It is called “First Cousin Once Removed.” It is aaaammmmaaaazzzing! I really wanted to share it with everyone, but unfortunately it is on HBO and there is no way to share their stuff. So, when I stumbled upon this very short and very altered version of the film that hints at what the longer piece is about I was very excited to share it.

In “56 Ways of Saying I Don’t Remember” we really get to know the character as someone who is defined by not remembering. It is through the repetition that we come to know the inability to remember is an everyday feeling for him. So, while it is repetitious I never felt that it was unnecessary because this repetition is part of his character. He is becoming more and more overcome by Alzheimer’s. True, there is more story that is elaborated on in the feature length film, and he is able to say more than that he doesn’t remember, but the feeling of what it might be like to have Alzheimer’s, or at least the feeling of what it is like to talk to someone with Alzheimer’s, is distilled in this short through the repetition of different moments where he states that he can’t remember something. I thought it was a powerful and risky choice. There might be people who will say you are making your character look silly, or that you are taking advantage of him, but I also think it is possibly a very true and accurate portrayal as well. And if you are wondering, the filmmaker and his cousin talked about making this film before he was severely affected by his Alzheimer’s, and his cousin gave him permission to film him.


1 Comment »

  1. says:

    This is a cool piece, and I was struck by the fact that it’s made all the more intriguing by the post-script. Without seeing the full video and without any knowledge of who the character is, there’s a little jab in the heart when you see that he was a poet, translator, and professor. If this was known from the beginning, it would have created somewhat of a darker and more morbid aura to the piece. But having it the way it is – the other way around – we’re able to get comfortable with the character, crack a few smiles, and then feel more connected to his story when we realize the character we have just come to know is even further from the man anyone could have guessed he once was. It’s a really solid example of the power of the reveal.

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