AN ENGLISH NATIONAL BALLET PRODUCTION ON FILM
DIRECTED BY ASIF KAPADIA
BASED ON AKRAM KHAN’S ORIGINAL CONCEPT AND CHOREOGRAPHY
WITH THE VOICE OF ANDY SERKIS
PREMIERED LONDON FILM FESTIVAL 2022. OPENING ON 24 FEBRUARY 2023 AT BFI SOUTHBANK AND SELECTED CINEMAS UK-WIDE
REVIEW by KATHLEEN BONDAR from LONDON FILM FESTIVAL 2022
Choreographed by Akram Khan and performed by the English National Ballet, Creature is a contemporary, abstract ballet on film set in the dystopian world of an Artic research station in which working drones are overseen by robotic soldiers under the control of a formidable Major. Comparisons with George Orwell’s indictment of autocracy in 1984 and Aldous Huxley’s futuristic Brave New World in which people are cloned and classed, can be made.
Creature is also the name of the protagonist, giving him the lowly and anonymous status of a minion. He is forced to undergo an experiment to see how far he can mentally and physically adapt to isolation and extreme cold beyond the bounds of the research station. His endurance is further tested when he witnesses the brutal treatment of a cleaner whom he loves called Marie who is stalked and eventually abused by the Major. Creature not only fights against the hierarchy, but he also fights for Marie.
The filming is seamless, as if there are no edits in the dance. And yet it is a full-length film with special effects evoking outer space (rockets, fireworks, moonscapes) and Ravel’s Bolero beating a stirring drum in the background.
Creature is a power piece of choreography. But be aware, Creature is something very different from ballets beloved by Christmas audiences. It is dark in subject and dark visually (monotone in costume and set design). It is relentless, often depressing and, at the same time, mesmerising and exhilarating.
The prolific cast of the English National Ballet are exemplary. They fill the stage and, like robots, move in unison. Their performances are breath-taking as they sweep to and fro across the stage, wave after wave, in synchronisation. The leads perform not only as world class dancers but expressively as actors (albeit voiceless), bringing their respective characters to life through dance.