Apples – surreal story about pandemic induced amnesia
Amidst a worldwide pandemic that causes sudden amnesia, middle-aged Aris (Aris Servetalis) finds himself enrolled in a recovery program designed to help unclaimed patients build new identities. Prescribed daily tasks on cassette tapes so he can create new memories and document them on camera, Aris slides back into ordinary life, meeting Anna (Sofia Georgovasili), a woman who is also in recovery.
Through images deadpan, strange and surreal,Greek writer-director Christos Nikou posits a beguiling reflection on memory, identity, and loss, exploring how a society might handle an irreversible epidemic through one man’s story of self-discovery.Are we the sum of the images we compile and display of ourselves, or are we something richer,and deeper?
Interesting film concept that makes one wonder what it would be like to begin life again as an adult. What would happen if you lost all memory of who you were, and were given treatment to become a new person? With so much going on in the world, could this be an easy escape from reality, or would you want to return to “normal”? This is exactly what Axis is asking himself in the film, as he soon discovers the pros and cons of his new self. It’s a slow moving film, yet quite thought provoking and unique. Watch it with an open mind.
Director’s Notes – Christos Nikou
How selective is our memory? Do we rememberwhat we have experienced or only what we havechosen to remember? Can we forget the things thathurt us? Could it be that deep down we don’t wantto forget painful experiences because without themwe lose our existence? In the end, are we simply thesum of all those things we don’t forget?When I had thefirst idea for what became APPLES,about eight years ago, I was trying to get over theloss of the closest person to me, and all of thesequestions regarding identity and loss, memory andpain were very much on my mind.APPLES is an allegorical comedy-drama. It is at itscore an effort to explore how our memory functions.As a reflection on identity and loss, on memory andpain, APPLES also explores what – and who – makesyou the person you are, how much of this isauthentically you and how much is imposed orcreated by others. It is exciting, and, in a wayabsurd, how quickly time passes from the momentwe enter adulthood: how fast we forget the mostimportant events or people in our lives, when at thesame time we might very clearly rememberinsignificant details and sensations.
I also wanted to explore how emotions affect ourmemory, and how nowadays our memory is affectedby technology, which makes it all too easy to recordand store information. Could it be that all thesetechnological advances have made our brain“lazier” and thus we recall fewer and fewer events,fewer and fewer emotions? Making your life revolvearound goals and aims set for you by a self-appointed external authority is at the heart of socialmedia use, be it Instagram campaigns or Tik Tokchallenges. Have we submitted our memories andemotions to these authorities? Could it be that wehave ended up living “less”?The tasks my characters are told to do as part oftheir therapy are commonplace. Take having to ridea bike, for example. That is something that is veryhard to forget once you have learned how to do it.It’s a symbol of a remembered experience, amemory that is re-created by external forces, byother people. I think this happens to all of us – weare often not living our own lives, and we imitatethings others do. Technology and social media havemade this much easier. You don’t need to keepthings in your mind anymore, you store yourmemories in your computer or publicly in yoursocial media feed
I am drawn tofilms that create entire worlds,something we recognize but that also feels a littlesurreal. Films like Her by Spike Jonze or HolyMotors by Leos Carax. And, of course, everythingby Charlie Kaufman, who has this gift of looking atthe world at a different angle. This distancing effectcan make you more creative but, at the same time,you have to keep a sense of the real world. At theend of the day movies are like fairytales, the mostimportant thing is having a compelling story.Something clever, something smart andunpredictable that pushes the audience to thinkfurther.So my intention with APPLES is to create a familiarworld in a recent past, in a society where technologyis not so present and everything is analog. A societyof lonely people where amnesia is spreading like avirus. This virus, this pandemic of unknown origins,is a well-known literary trope, from Camus’ ThePlague to Saramago’s Blindness. These are stories,like APPLES, where the sickness is not important initself, not even in its impact on society; it is merely adevice to talk about what could grandly be calledthe human condition at the individual level.
APPLES, which starts in a dystopian environment,very soon shifts to a more anthropocentricapproach.The visual style allowed me to focus on the physicaland existential isolation of the main character. Tofollow his emotions up close, we used the 4:3 aspectratio, a format which serves as a direct reference to arecent past which is clearly related to the polaroidphotos that are a very significant element of thestory.Within the narrow frame of APPLES, weexperience our main character’s surreal, sad,sometimes comical existence. I always sought toplace him in a world rife with dramatic irony anddouble meanings. Though this is not comedy, severalsurreally comical scenes break what might otherwisebe a very depressing take on the human condition.The main actor’s performance was a key element inbringing all these tonal elements together; themeasured restraint of his performance is enhancedin the few scenes in which he does the unexpected,for example the rather sad dance night in which hestarts to do the twist. In these moments, hisphysicality hints at a person that remains elusive.
Executive Producers: Cate Blanchett, Andrew Upton and Coco Francini
About the Author
Bryen Dunn is a freelance journalist with a focus on travel, lifestyle, entertainment and hospitality. He has an extensive portfolio of celebrity interviews with musicians, actors and other public personalities. He enjoys discovering delicious eats, tasting spirited treats, and being mesmerized by musical beats.