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Cognition (Twelve Corner Productions)

Short Film Review COGNITION (2020)

Neil reviews COGNITION, a hugely ambitious short film by Ravi Ajit Chopra and starring Andrew Scott and Jeremy Irvine.

Synopsis

Planet Vega, a breathtaking world of unparalleled beauty…

10-year old Abner dreams of nothing more than exploring the entire universe as he gazes up at Vegas majestic Twilight sky. But those dreams are far from realistic – He and his father Elias live a humblenomadic lifestyle on the endless desert-scapes of Vega.

But miles away there is another Vega, a state controlled Vega, separate from the colonies. A Vega that is home only to an Elite class to have built a technological Empire that is unexcelled in the universe. This is a world Elias fears, a world he has kept Secret from Abner all these years. But he can only shepherd his son for so long…

This uncompromising short Sci-Fi drama fuses two distant worlds in a hallucinogenic roller-coaster ride through the darkest chasms of the mind.

Review

Cognition, from first-time-writer and director Ravi Ajit Chopra, is one of the most ambitious projects to arise from the ashes of 2020. To me short film evokes the idea of telling a concise story under tight budgetary and time constraints. But Cognition tears up the rule book to create a sprawling science fiction epic which runs for a precise 27 minutes.

Rather than “settle” on being a simple short film with aspirations of being something more, Cognition grasps the idea of standing side-by-side with its silver screen cousins and mostly achieves doing so.

We open on the sprawling landscape of the planet Vega where we meet Abner (Milo Panni) and his father Elias (Andrew Scott). Their relationship is simple yet impactful, in mere moments the poignant dialogue portraying a loving family exploring the vast landscape of this alien world.

Chopra’s script lays out plenty of though provoking questions across the film’s narrative. There’s questions about identity and family which are rooted strongly in human emotion and they are beautifully wrapped up in the film’s stunning visuals.

Cognition featuring some incredible visual effects and set design work. What was immediately noticeable was that barely a single shot across the whole 27 minutes wasn’t augmented with some kind of special effects. The planet Vega is perhaps the most stunning setup of the film, creating an entirely alien landscape and integrating a number of characters in to its dusty atmosphere. Other scenes across the film masterfully match interiors from London’s Battersea Power Station with scenes of the adult-Abner (Jeremy Irvine) struggling with his own identity.

What struck me the most about Cognition was Samuel Karl Bohn’s orchestral score. From the opening swell of the strings the score absolutely engulfed the cinema. Where many films will use orchestral score to enhance certain scenes or evoke character-based themes, Cognition features music at every turn. It’s a huge, Zimmer-esque soundscape which certainly elevates the film to become something truly unique.

Verdict

Cognition is a hugely ambitious project which features stunning visuals and a truly cinematic score. It raises the bar for science fiction in short form film.

Cognition will premiere at Archlight Cinema at the Battersea Power Station on October 9, 2020 and will have the rare privilege for a short to have a cinema release for two weeks. Cognition will also be available On Demand on October 30, 2020 via Apple iTunes, Amazon and Google Play.


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