Waterscape: illusions





Waterscape: illusions


On a mysterious wilderness lake, a woman shapes a film.  Against impressionistic footage of the water and its swans, a range of observers – personifications of the filmmaker’s thoughts – are heard in voiceover.  The filmmaker reads from her shooting diary, girls recount swan myths, a scholar discusses swan symbolism, and supposed “experts” from across history debate whether swans really sing before they die.  Over painted illustrations, the woman spins her own tale.

As all the scenarios play out, the film, as document of reality, becomes suspect and its true setting is revealed.  And as the real swans’ escapades point up a disparity between human perception and reality, they begin to resemble the filmmaker’s fairy tale.


Waterscape: illusions was filmed over an eight-year period in all seasons and weather in both color and black-and-white. The watercolor illustrations created for the filmmaker’s fairy tale within the film, like the story itself, reject the conventions of traditional tales and take inspiration from several directions: Japanese prints for a waterfall, eighteenth-century costume for a palace party, and twenty-first century cuisine for a feast.

The film has a soundtrack comprised of voiceover, environmental sounds, and music, all added in post-production.  Nature is tranquil in this film and sounds are subtle and spare. In this setting, a single man-made sound – a footstep or the hissing of a lawn sprinkler – has significant presence.  An original score of muted trumpet, cello, percussion, and clarinet suggests at different times: a nature documentary, an otherworldly setting, and the swan’s song.

Technical Information

Completed 2007
Running time 52 minutes
Filmed and finished on 16mm film, in color and black-and-white
Mono optical sound track
Projection ratio 1:1.33