Short Film Review: Gunam-Gunam X Guni-Guni

blessed--me: 54 Images Luxury 2021 Gunam- Gunam X Guni Guni

Gunam-Gunam X Guni-Guni, directed by Khavn de la Cruz, is a Filipino film that follows the adventures of two children named Gunam and Guni. In a disorientating 10 minutes, the experimental film assaults the senses and overwhelms viewers. Never allowing the audience to catch a break, the film completely and consistently displaces viewers while simultaneously immersing one into the filmic world. With his maximalist style, Khavn rejects all conventional forms compromising on the pre-established language of cinema through his visual and sound design. 

The film’s visual style is uncompromising. With jump cuts, a shaky camera, and a mixture of different forms such as stop motion, it rebels against all the rules of cinema. The image never holds still, graphics are even added at a point to further compromise any sort of footing one might have attained. At every turn, the film disorientates the viewer, the images almost clashing with one another. It is as if one is unable to look away in their attempts at deciphering the image. It is in that incomprehensibility that Khavn creates a sense of anxiety. 

This anxiety is further induced by the pervasive sound design. At the start, the film establishes itself as an adaption of a book called ‘Supporting tools in teaching the Filipino language’ which is narrated throughout the course of the film. However, this never holds the audience’s attention as a cacophony of other instruments make up the soundscape of the film. With drums that don’t follow a steady rhythm, and piano sounding like a child is smashing against the keys, these sounds battle for dominance and create an atmosphere of discomfort. At a certain point, the narrator repeats the names of the children against the backdrop of this discordance, so much so that those words begin to lose their meanings as one gets absorbed into the surrounding sounds. 

What then is the meaning of those words? From the very first shot, detailing the definitions of the words ‘Gunam-Gunam’ and ‘Guni-Guni’, alongside the consistent narration of a textbook on Filipino language, Khavn sets his film up as one that compromises pre-supposed knowledge of language. To be specific, film language. Through its visual and sound design, the film goes against preconceived notions of cinema, compromising viewers’ understanding of the medium, hence causing a sense of anxiety. The language that is embodied in the children also suggests a certain freedom of interpretation and a playfulness. It is as if we are looking at how they view the world, and of cinema, through fresh eyes, with no prior knowledge. The film, in all its rebelliousness of forms of cinema, pushes the medium as far as it can go while simultaneously bringing it back to its roots. 

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Watch the trailer for Gunam-Gunam X Guni-Guni here.




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