Immersive, bombastic, cataclysmic–the end of the world is a scary place in Catastrophe Anthem. Actress Tuesday Thomas bravely takes on the apocalypse, dancing in the flames, the ruins, and the shrapnel of the old world as it crumbles. Speaking directly to the camera, she soliloquizes on the looming threats around us–from social media, to social pressures. Her beautifully made-up, mismatched blue-and-green Bowie eyes stare directly into our souls as she desperately urges us to take back our minds. Quiet, calm strength gives way to urgent anxiety, which gives way to a peaceful tranquility. Like Hollywood’s Joan of Arc, Thomas dances in the flames of her own rebellion.
A remarkable convergence of humanity and digital media–an almost-experimental view of what the end of the world may look like. Thomas dances in an apocalyptic hellscape–almost all digitally animated. The ground is real, the landscape is real–but the planes and bombs and crashing flames are all fake. The artistic team at Carbon VFX created a world around Thomas, utilizing new sims and animations to create something spectacular. Hundreds of hours of research went into each effect–from the flight path of a crashing plane, to the particulate matter of a fiery explosion.
Pure, honest, flawed, and stunning–Thomas is bold and unashamed (almost brash) in her convictions. Her truth echoes in my mind even now, hours after viewing. According to director Christopher Hewitt, the driving life force behind Catastrophe Anthem began when he met Thomas in a casting session–and the following year of discussions about mental health, social media, and the values we place on ourselves, our “follows” and “likes”, and our image. Her battle cry–her siren song–her warning to us all is a clanging chime of doom, and church bells ringing in the square, all at once. Eventually dancing in the flames of the end, we are reminded of who we are–and what we all come to when it all fades away.
Catastrophe Anthem is currently playing at Slamdance 2021.
9.5 out of 10