Visit ‘The Border of Utopia’ through this indie film
Utopia. We’ve all heard of it, and even dreamed of it. The subject of a million and one stories, we all dream of some idealistic world where we all think the same way and get along in harmony. But as we all know, utopia isn’t realistic, and that’ exactly what the indie film The Border of Utopia.
Loosely based on Shakespeare’s As You Like It, The Border of Utopia is the latest project from director Wesley Rickert. Known for his self-aware filmmaking style, The Border of Utopia screams Rickert from start to finish. Yet that self-aware illusion is exactly what keeps you drawn in for all ninety-seven minutes.
The illusion of happiness
Similar to the plot of As You Like It, The Border of Utopia follows Soldier #2 (Kathleen Reichelt) meets an eclectic cast of characters in utopia. From some sleepy cows, to the ghosts of stage performers, there’s a million and one unique souls to talk to in Utopia.
Meanwhile, we also meet the all-seeing deity Instant Imagination (Ulysses Castellanos), who lives out his days gazing into painted landscapes and seeing the future that has yet to occur. He even meets up with his wife Roslind on occasion in the forest. But is everything what it seems to be in the world of utopia?
If you’ve ever seen or read As You Like It, you know how insane the play can be at times. There’s a reason it’s arguably one of Shakespeare’s most divisive plays. Yet somehow, Wesley Rickert managed to not only make the play even more of an illusion, but also somehow make sense of it all at the same time.
Nothing in the Forest of Arden was what it seemed, and Rickert made sure to keep the same theme for The Border of Utopia. You never know exactly what to expect from each character. When you first meet Instant, he’s a man who talks to styrofoam heads. You don’t expect him to be this all-seeing deity, yet he is. Nor do you expect him to actually have a wife.
It’s little details like this that make The Border of Utopia stand out. Most indie films based on other works just end up ripping off the story, but Wesley Rickert takes the concepts of As You Like It and runs with them, making them his own.
A man of insanity
Then again, nothing about Wesley Rickert’s filmography is basic. Every film he’s directed takes these bizarre, worldly subjects and makes them so crazy, you end up understanding in the end. From his take on the myth of Icarus in Wax Wings, to a road-trip film based on Hamlet, AKA The Road to Elsinore, Rickert is all about making absurdist art.
Of course, that comes down to how Rickert himself sees film. “For me, film is a self-aware illusion that presents itself as an illusion. If it has reality, it is the reality of an audience member sitting in a chair.” When the director himself sees film as this medium for taking people out of reality, it’s no surprise his films are just as absurd and existential.
It’s one thing to adapt a crazy story, but to make it your own is an entirely new accomplishment. Wesley Rickert is a talented indie film director and writer, and The Border of Utopia continues to prove his talents. If you need to take a trip away from our world as it stands, check out any of Wesley Rickert’s filmography, especially The Border of Utopia.