Trailer: In ‘Memoria’, Tilda Swinton is Haunted by a Sonic Terror

In explaining the inspiration for the enigmatic journey of the character Jessica Holland in his new film Memoria, Palme D’or winning Thai filmmaker Apichatpong Weerasethakul reveals it as being somewhat autobiographical:

“An important factor in the birth of this project is my own hallucination. While researching, I often
heard a loud noise at dawn. It was internal and has occurred in many of the places I visited. This
symptom is inseparable from my exposure to Colombia, and it has formed the basis of a character whose audio experience synchronizes with the country’s memory.”

Holland is played by Tilda Swinton, who in fact experiences a similar type of loud bang at first light, and afterwards finds herself unable to sleep. She is a Scottish botanist living in Medellin, but has traveled to Bogotá to visit her sister. Along the way she encounters architect Agnes Cerkinsky (played by Jeanne Balibar) and fish-scaler Hernan (Elkin Diaz), who are to play crucial roles in her strange sojourn of sensory discovery.

The trailer opens with Jessica explaining to a sound engineer her sonic haunting: “It’s like a rumble from the core of the earth – and then it shrinks.” Eerie, almost threatening noises are overlaid onto her otherwise unremarkable experiences of visiting Agnes in her lab, or going to an art gallery. She will ultimately travel deep into the Colombian jungles in a desperate attempt to find the source of the sound.

The film arrives at a curious time (it will be touring select theaters around the country from April through October via NEON, see the full list of locations here), as we’re emerging from isolation and returning to our everyday interactions with the outside world. Perhaps Memoria wants to remind us that our relationship with our environment remains, well…a decidedly uneasy one.

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