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Idzie Człowiek

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Figure 1: Friends? Is that you?

Idzie Człowiek (official translation of There goes a man, though I’d rather prefer Amangoes) is a film by Jakub Kopańko and Filip Rybczyński, the former being the director and sole editor and the latter being the director and cinematographer. Now, from googling their names online they seem to be underageb&, but hey, you don’t need to be an old fart like Tarkovsky to make good films, right? Right?

From reading the description alone, you can get a glimpse of what the film is about—AI and shit. Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s not the popular science type of AI like in I, Robot or similar, but rather a woman who is merely meant to signify the (self-aware) AI.

The whole plot of the film takes part—from what I’ve gathered—in a computer simulation, with the main (silent and nameless) protagonist being a representation of the self-aware (or at least heading to self-awareness) AI. At the very beginning we have a short intro with computer gibberish and we are transported into the world of the simulation—a summer forest.

The protagonist then proceeds to look around in a tent and takes a look at the items inside, before heading out to a river to gather some water in a bucket, which was in the aforementioned items. This is when we are introduced to the second protagonist—a small child, supposedly a different AI which is also part of the simulation. After a short monologue, we get back to the tent where the woman cooks some food on a campfire and proceeds to (incredibly awkwardly) eat it.

Why the forest? Why the tent? Why cook shit? Why are the items there? None of that works as a valid plot device, and it seems to me that it’s ambiguous for the sake of being ambiguous.

And those questions are what make the movie—it’s incredibly confusing, a lot of concepts and developments are out-of-place, and most of the time you just don’t know what the fuck is going on. It really doesn’t even try to make a statement, it does a great job of hiding it away from the viewer under layers of strange long shots of nothing at all.

Now, believe me, I love pretentiousness. This movie is everything but. In Tarkovsky’s Stalker—a movie which I would describe as de facto pretentious—we have similar plot devices as here, but what makes Stalker special is that you can actually figure the plot out. It’s not an open-to-interpretation blank slate, that is only then inscribed with whatever the author says in the release notes.

The movie tries hard, it tries hard to show us something. Through the dynamics, the constant movement of the protagonist—we really want to see where she’s heading. The film’s title is There goes a man—but where does the man actually go?

After that scene, the woman goes to sleep and wakes up in the morning, and we’re greeted with greatness! A beautiful shot of the sun, perfectly colored, along with a beautiful tune in the background—the atmosphere is simply amazing. But, alas, it delves back into ennui in a blink.

And the music in the film is great. Analog-sounding ambient tunes full of drones and pads that really do an amazing job. It is, though, unfortunately not SMDATM.

The woman then heads to a telecom tower in the middle of nowhere, near which is a complex with hallways and a large open room. This brings me a few scenes back, with the kid near the river, where we were introduced into what I think was supposed to be the selling-point of the movie—the whole glitch esthetic. To be honest, it’s nowhere to be found in movies, so this is quite the innovative take. It’s well-executed as well, although in some parts—going back to now, in the complex scene—it is out-of-place. The purpose of it is unknown to me—either the simulation is glitching, or it’s just a cool atmospheric effect. In the case of the former, does the “glitching” really lead anywhere?

The woman then goes in circles around the large open room in the complex, and suddenly there’s three of her, uh, then the kid appears, saying something—what the fuck? What’s this supposed to signify?

Afterwards the main protagonist is greeted to a terminal which asks for a prompt to erase the simulation. Now, the main protagonist is a self-aware AI—so she must have some notion of self-preservation. Regardless of that, she decided to wipe the whole simulation, including herself. Roll credits.

Why would she wipe the simulation and herself? Now, let me try to think real hard. The simulation is one of many—it’s all the same, trying to train the AI to do something, so the AI decides to break the loop by pulling the plug. And this might be used to explain all the glitching—but if the AI is self-aware, why would she need a glitch in the simulation to understand that the training in itself is pointless? If the AI has control over the simulation, as proven by the fact that she can destroy it, then why doesn’t she change it? Even better, if she can destroy the simulation, then she destroys it not from within, but from the outside, therefore the simulation must be in some way connected to the real world. Why doesn’t she escape? Why does she instead decide to end it all?

This confusion, inconsistency, and ambiguity are what puts me off about this movie. It really is a film about nothing. Nothing at all. The cinematography is great though, as well as the glitch aesthetics and music—the acting is meh. But if you make a film about nothing, you might as well just do nothing and not make the film.

Rating: C+

Author: zd

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