‘The Machine Which Makes Everything Disappear’ confuses, leaves viewers with questions

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Image used under fair use doctrine

Trisha Chaudhary


The Machine Which Makes Everything Disappear by Tinatin Gurchiani. Just hearing the name of the film piqued my interest. I wanted to see what it was about, who was in it, if there really was a machine that made things disappear. After reading the short summary on the True/False website, I found out that the documentary was really about the lives of young people who lived in Georgia (the country) and how they felt caught in the midst of a country transitioning from the past to the future. 
And that’s all it was: a movie about the lives of young people.
The movie starts with the director posting an ad that said she was looking for young people, ages 15-25, to cast in a movie. The first interview is with a 13-year-old boy who wants to play the main character in this supposed movie. The documentary shows his interview for about 5 minutes and then follows his life for about 10 minutes. Then it shows an interview of a school girl who wants to be a scientist. Then it shows an interview with a 20-some aged governor of a small village. It follows his life for 10 to 15 minutes, exposing that he is caught taking care of a village filled with 150 people who are all about the age of 70, and he wants to get out but doesn’t know how. Then it goes to a girl who is tired of living, of breathing, of eating, whose whole life is consumed by her endless tiredness. Then to a girl whose mother had left her as a baby, and she had grown up with her father, grandmother and aunt. It follows her life for 20 or so minutes and her journey to meet her mother for the first time. Then a sheep farmer. Then a young mother. Then a boy whose brother is in prison. I think you get the picture.
And so The Machine Which Makes Things Disappear is really just a random compilation of the completely unrelated lives of these young people. At times in the middle of it, the film is rather slow, and having been out all day, I found my eyes beginning to droop. An hour into the movie I was starting to wonder what exactly the point of all of this was. Thinking back to the description, I suppose if I thought about it, the lives of these individuals could somehow be connected to some kind of a transition to modernity. Perhaps the young governor stuck in an old people’s world? Or the young man trying to cope with the horrific images of war that he saw as a child?
But then, within literally the last two minutes of the movie, the director introduces a profound thought. Just as the film is winding down, the screen flashes to another interview with this rather creepy young man. The first thing he says? “I don’t understand why people say life is such a blessing.” Or something of that nature. He then continues to question why people are so taken with the idea of life. He said that we are told we have a choice in life, but we really don’t. Nobody ever asked us if we wanted to be born. Life is really just a cycle of endless suffering, he said.
And then the movie ended.
I know. It was over. Before I even had time to think about or begin to process what that last man had said, it was over! I felt that if they had introduced this idea of life earlier on in the film, it might have helped the plot (if there was one) develop a little better. At the time I was so confused and disappointed, but now, an hour later, thinking back, I think I might be starting to get it. Maybe. A little bit.
You may ask, where exactly does the title factor in? Well if you recall, one of the interviewees was a tired girl. The interviewer (which I’m assuming was the director) asked “If you had a machine that could make anything disappear, what would you choose?” And the girl replied, “Myself.”
Maybe this whole movie was talking about how little of a say we have in our whole lives, and what, even, is life? Is it really a gift? Is it a curse? Does anyone even really know?
Thinking back, I realize why the director posted an ad advertising auditions for a movie. When people get asked “Why do you want to be in a movie?” they’re so willing to talk to you, to tell you their life story. In the name of an audition, it almost seems people will tell you anything. Perhaps this movie was just a reflection on how easy it really is to get people to open up to you. Or maybe it really was just a random compilation of the lives of young people.
But I don’t know. There’re a lot of “maybe”s in this review. And maybe that’s a good thing. Or maybe not.
If there’s anything I do know, it’s that The Machine That Makes Everything Disappear is a beautifully filmed movie. The shots of the Georgian countryside are crisp and fresh, and the interviews with the people are beautiful too. It is an honest piece of work.
Maybe you should go see it.
By Trisha Chaudhary