We enjoy a good sci-fi, especially when it tackles stimulating ideological stakes. ‘See the Sunrise‘ strikes the perfect balance between expertly crafted cinematic concreteness and an exciting, challenging narrative core. In short, Andy James Taylor’s short film won us over by combining the sensitivity of “Her” or “After Yang” with the appeal of more mainstream productions like “Ready Player One.” In other words, this short film manages to straddle the line between niche cinema and dynamic storytelling that caters to adrenaline-seeking viewers. It introduces us to a fictional universe not too far removed from our present, following the emotional connection between a woman and a character from a state-of-the-art video game that takes the immersive virtual experience to another level.
Beyond implicitly critiquing addictions in a hyper-tech era, a sub-theme that emerges from this narrative construct explores the ethics of game creators. It suggests that extreme involvement in a game can always become a form of emotional blackmail and, indirectly, self-destruction. The director captures this paradox extremely subtly: the more truthful the characters’ humanity, the more players risk losing their own humanity and rejecting the real world to seek solace in the compensatory universe of a game or even indulge in a “god game” to derive pleasure from others’ suffering.
The future of technology and entertainment may revolve around sensory overload, offering consumers intense experiences that make reality seem like a tasteless simulacrum. However, for Andy James Taylor, the perspective of the character in the game is as important as the player’s point of view. This brings two distinct identities from completely different worlds and sensibilities together, sharing a common human background and facing each other directly. Through this mechanism, the director introduces new ways of understanding the short film and brings forth a series of philosophical implications that touch upon a familiar dilemma: “Who am I? How can I be certain that my life truly exists or is it merely a fiction imagined by someone else?” This idea, popular not only in philosophical writings but also in sci-fi literature (Philip K. Dick being a striking example), is not new. However, contextualizing it within the parameters of ‘See the Sunrise’ manages to infuse a certain freshness that we truly appreciate.