A Year in Shorts Day 144: "The Cathedral"
Every now and again, I come across a short that’s rather difficult to find much to talk about. There are various reasons for this. Sometimes a short is great, but in a way that’s fairly self-evident and hard to add to. Other times a short is very abstract and somewhat difficult to analyze without projecting. Some shorts are just military propaganda, which just isn’t very interesting to talk about. And some are just plain bad and not worth the effort! But sometimes a short is perfectly fine, visually striking and perfectly entertaining but still tricky to discuss just because there’s not too much going on under the surface. Tomasz Baginski’s 2002 short The Cathedral is definitely one of those films.
Based on the short story by Jacek Dukaj, The Cathedral is a Polish science fiction short, which means that's another country we can check off our international short films bingo. Luckily for us the film is totally wordless, so there's no language barrier for us to worry about. It follows the story of some unnamed space explorer who discovers a bizarre cathedral on an alien planet. The explorer decides to check it out, and is subjected to the best spooky images that low budget European CGI that the early 2000s can provide.
The film that came to mind while watching The Cathedral was the first film I watched in 2021- John Carpenter's The Fog. I wouldn't call The Fog a great movie, but it's fun and spooky and good to look at. And I think that sums up The Cathedral perfectly. It's not a revolutionary short or a masterpiece of horror cinema. But if you want something creepy with its own distinct style, you could do a lot worse. There may not be a lot going on under the surface (or maybe there is, I don't know), but there doesn't really have to be. It's a campfire story, and sometimes that's all you need.
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