— Carl Jung
What happens when we drop our masks of identity and return to our human core?
Lubomir Arsov’s groundbreaking short film IN-SHADOW: A Modern Odyssey poses this question through an epic quest into the darkness of Western civilization.
At a mere 13 minutes long, this gorgeously illustrated film embarks on a journey of exploration into the human psyche, bringing society’s dark underbelly to the surface.
If a purpose of art is to “disturb the comfortable and comfort the disturbed,” as Cesar Cruz once observed, this film is an undeniable masterpiece.
News anchors, politicians, and celebrities, who are normally so groomed and beautiful, warp into grotesque caricatures. The smiles on everyday people are revealed to be masks that cover faces twisted in fear and agony. The world of jobs and careers begins to take on the aesthetic of a prison as people sell their lives for big houses, fancy cars, and the latest hot techno-gadget.
IN-SHADOW takes on a wide range of issues, from corporate lobbying to the drug war; racial tensions to rape culture; factory farming to neo-colonialism; the military-industrial complex to the corruption of government; from media manipulation to the disconnect and drudgery experienced by everyday people.
IN-SHADOW removes the masks people wear to reveal the deeper truth at the heart of Western society’s deepest issues: at our core, we are all human. We have complex emotional and psychological needs that we push to the side to assimilate to a faceless system that caters to a profit-obsessed, unlimited-growth economy.
The result is widespread alienation and depression, but to show that suffering is a social taboo. In an effort to fit in with the fictional narrative we have created for our society, everyone struggles to show a happy face to the rest of the world.
Yet, in this culture, one wonders whether anyone can become truly happy until they remove the masks, dive into their unconscious, and mine deep to their inner core: one of love, creativity, and connection to all of life and the universe.
Arsov’s phenomenal short film is so full of symbolism and iconic imagery that it merits several views. You might leave with more questions than you came with. For example: To what extent are we being manipulated on a mass scale? How do we unearth social and cultural roots that stretch back thousands of years? And more importantly, how do we remove these masks for ourselves and tap this inner wellspring of peace, connection, and creativity?