Since it is in the nature of conflicts to estrange us from others, they often blind us as we start to focus only on ourselves. Strangely enough and especially with feuds going on for decades, the reason for them has become rather blurry, but have, nevertheless, led to more conflicts, arguments and even the corrosion of families. In his short film “Journey by Life”, Bangladeshi director Fahim Ahmed follows the roots of conflicts, their internal and external circumstances in order to show how they may be resolved.
The story begins with a man named Kalam, who has promised to donate his kidney to the father of Sholag, a friend of his. At the same time, Kalam’s father also suffers from a similar disease, but refuses any treatment, wanting to die peacefully and without prolonging his life through medicine. However, because his father’s conditions worsens every day, Kalam begins to question his decision to donate his kidney.
Considering its theme, the visual presentation in “Journey by Life” chooses the almost logical way of relying on close-ups and an effective use of natural light. Since the conflicts vary from feuds between brothers to conflicts of faith, Anikat Onih’s camera focuses in the internal struggle of the characters. Even though it delves into melodramatic territory at some points, the effect is quite interesting, highlighting the conflicted parties within the character trying to come to a decision on how to proceed. Additionally, the reliance on natural light, on strong light and dark contrasts may serve as a symbolic reminder of the emotional costs of these decisions and how they may affect the lives of the characters, as well as those around them.
However, despite its running time of a little over six minutes, the sheer amount of conflicts Ahmed tries to cover causes another, more formal problem. Some of the narrative threads which are picked up, for example the conflict over land between Kalam’s father and his brother, seems to bear very little connection to the overall narrative. Overall, the storytelling is at times a bit chaotic and would have greatly benefited from a little more focus on one or two of these fields of conflict rather than trying to cover all of them.
In the end, “Journey by Life” is a film about the nature of conflicts, a subject mirrored formally in the unfocused narrative. At the same time, its use of visuals and light is quite interesting as it greatly emphasizes the emotional costs of each struggle as well as the choice it leads to.