In The Eye Of The Torn
We’ve advised an number of times here on Flush to steer away from trailers from various movies where we felt that far too much information was given away by the marketing team (trailers are generally produced by different teams to the main movie) in their fun(less)damental quest for coin over experience. But we’ve never advised that you don’t even look up anything about the movie at all, in particular it’s title.
In the most wonderful way possible we have reached that juncture. Literally stepping into the ring we have the stunningly pure creativity, sincerity and all round talent in the phenomenal independent film ‘The Pyramid Texts’ (2015) directed by brothers Ludwig and Paul Shammasian. It’s independence so genuine that it’s at present (hopefully that changes) only available now on digital streaming, whilst I had the unmitigated joy (and profound upset) of seeing this on a huge screen, where it rightly should be drawing fans.
In essence the film is as simple as it’s colour range, black and white, a man and his story. A retired prize fighter boxer Ray (James Cosmos with possibly the performance of the year) sombrely begins his morn, opening up a boxing club gym where he coaches. The lumbering bulk of a man who though measured in pace, has the stature and pugilist forged calm of years that gives you the impression he could instantly bounce into stance and floor you with the strength of a bear throwing right hooks. That calm also shadows a hunting Lion waiting for an opening, for the prey to make a fatal mistake. But for the moment those piercing hunter’s eye are focused on quietly making a cup of tea.
He brings the freshly brewed cuppa, the duffle bag that he arrived with and meekly bows, stepping into the empty boxing ring in the middle of the hall. Like a priest setting up for service, in a somewhat ritualistic ceremonial sequence he places the corner stool towards the middle and sets up a video tripod and camera directly in front of it. He arranges some other things, but I’m going to be deliberately vague as much as I can in this review. Once the camera is recording, the story begins to slowly rumble inside this volcano of a man, it takes a few moments for the story to break surface, but once it does, the tale doesn’t stop flowing and only gets hotter and more intense with each passing moment and it completely changes the landscape forever.
There’s a tradition back home in Ireland of the ‘seanchaí’, renowned storytellers who practiced their art orally, never writing anything down. Stories were passed down generations of tribes and held great importance as they recorded historic and everyday events big and small. Any time they spoke they would hold rapturous court as they regaled times long passed, battles, loves, mythologies, adventures and warnings. As consummate narrative weavers they would have known exactly how to thread you with their words, slowly painting tapestries of awe. ‘The Pyramid Texts’ was written by Geoff Thompson after some conversations he had with James Cosmos and their mutual desire to work together, clearly being of kindred spirits. Geoff also acutely has the DNA of these great ancestral narrators but has thankfully taken on the aspect of not only writing it down, but having it filmed for the world to experience. And it is for the World, for even though pretty much the entire movie happens within the confines of the ropes, boxing and the ring represent the World and our very existence. The words that are spoken, “Boxing, let’s start with that shall we?” whisk us through time, lands, gods and mortals. The floor of the ring becomes the canvas for a true artist, a picture may paint a thousand words, but a few words here paints millions of paintings with impassioned, emotive intensity, honesty and vulnerability.
There are many stories and themes covered, slowly released with the bounce and weave of a conversation and intimacy of a good friend nostalgically reminiscing about past times down the pub. The conversation is directed to camera with the intention of a particular recipient, but ultimately we are the focus. We are told about the challenges, successes, failures, truths, lies, pride and regrets that mark each time we step into the boxing ring of life, ready to take on our latest opponent. What becomes apparent very quickly is that the biggest foe we will ever face is ourselves, and we don’t always win.
There will be times when despite our best efforts just like Ray, we will stumble cut, broken and bruised into our corner. But fighters fight. There is no shame in a loss or defeat, only in not participating, for the fight is the dance of life, the art, the sport, the history, the heritage, the reason, the respectful harnessing of chaos for the very briefest of moments. All the elations, pains and experiences of life distilled into a moment. It is the ballet of dance and battle, the fight of your life, for your life.
Ultimately the film is a monologue, which can be a very risky place to go too for a director, writer and even the actor themselves. Like in the boxing ring itself, there is nowhere to hide.
Everything is distilled down to it’s purest form, fully exposed to piercing eyes and ready to be jabbed away at before potentially being knocked out with a fatal mistake. All that endless training and effort gone in an instant. Not in the case of Cosmos though, this is a once in a lifetime performance, in a once in a lifetime role.
There are times in the movie where James’ dark eyes fill the screen, his white hair and beard bleaching out the perimeters of perception, becoming the very abyss he warns us off. Not only is Cosmos stunning, but he is matched by equally powerful and very beautiful, eloquent words, cinematography and score.
In a world of massive hundreds of millions budgeted movies, that can take months or even years to make, they are all ultimately doing the same thing, telling a story.
With little or no money, five days filming (in Repton Boxing Club), but a infinite wealth of passion, belief, talent, fearlessness and justified confidence in their story, this group of individuals have bonded together to make one of the most outstanding movies of the year, and many many years to come. Make sure you’re ringside for one of the greatest fights you will ever see.
10/10 ‘The Pyramid Texts’ is out now on iTunes and other digital platforms. Check www.thepyramidtexts.com for more details.