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  • 2.7
A tornado is a spinning cyclone of nature. It stampedes like an angry bull through a tranquil pasture of blue violets and upright blades of grass. A tornado kills with abandon but has no will. Lynne Sachs’ TORNADO is a poetic piece shot from the perspective of Brooklyn, where much of the paper and soot from the burning towers fell on September 11. Sachs’ fingers obsessively handle these singed fragments of resumes, architectural drawings and calendars, normally banal office material that takes on a new, haunting meaning.

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Member Reviews (3)

The narration is the weakest part of this film---not necessarily because of what is said but how it is said. The woman sounds far too much like a first-grade teacher; her tone is almost enough to ruin the images. The way the destruction of 9/11/01 is rendered is fascinating: only the hands of an old(er) woman manipulating pieces of newspaper, which, even though "ruined" are still intact, that is, without scorch marks or soot or dirty footprints. Some of them also contain information about those who died in the World Trade Center. Each, however, is always two-sided; one side might even be the day's Sudoku puzzle. The woman's hands as they move recall knitting or weaving (as if she were Ariadne or one of the Fates) and even children's hand games (this is the church, this is the steeple, open the doors and see all the people). The vastness of the fingers as they fill the screen, twisting the paper and themselves, can also be another tornado, but one vastly slowed down and thus incapable of destruction. The grandmotherly hands in their vastness also provide comfort; they don't grasp anything so much as they "filter" it.

The zoom to the tree afterward---a tree with a huge knot/hole---is another wonderfully organic metaphor and speaks to the damaged life in the aftermath of the attack. Trees can also be associated with men or women, but usually women (e.g., The Giving Tree); the way the zoom works is to give the tree a hallucinatory, fantastical look, almost as if it were the lower part of Yggdrasil.

I'm not sure I'm a fan of the last shot. Although it contrasts the pensive, comforting femininity of most of the film with a more practical, active masculinity (contemplation seems limited to chess, the classic war game), it does so with no comment besides the image. The chess players are behind a fence, the skateboarder boy visible only from the waist down. The female seems to have no place here and cannot find a way to integrate with it. Meanwhile, a plane flies overhead and goes unnoticed; regular life is back again---or could this even be the moment before regular life ended? Even if I as a viewer can read all of this into the last image, the ability to read it as such doesn't really follow from the rest of the film. And the seeming resignation to being uninvolved in, uninvited to, and incapable of living in a "man's world" while the more humble authorship of women can hold a "twisted," torn world together seems a position far too ridiculous for today's America. The corridors of democratic power are well-populated now with war-waging and war-worshiping women, in contrast to the war-waging women of royal times, and plenty of men are "in touch with their feminine sides." Maybe Sachs cannot overcome a sense of a personal permanent outsider status with men, but, if that's so, it's more likely that this shows a large artistic limitation; in any case, it would not be nearly so large a limitation if her film explored that sense in a way that required less than almost infinite stretching of the imagination to take me there.

1 member likes this review
7a202330e695743b3b01332693c3840d? m 0019
top reviewer

A 3-min movie -really? Is this a haiku, joke or both?

Contemplative, poetic.