In Minos Nikolakakis’s Entwined, the worlds of science and myth mix together. The story is based on the kinds of folk tales the filmmaker encountered. It reflects a view of the world that has been passed down for generations, but may not seem to fit in our culture of rationalism. What happens when a modern person comes in contact with such a different reality?
Panos (Prometheus Aleifer), a city doctor, moves to a rural village following the death of his father. That death seems to have left him with a bit of a savior complex. When he arrives in town, he finds there has never been a doctor here. He is an outsider. Since no one comes to the office, he goes out wandering the countryside and comes to the woodland home of Danae (Anastasia-Rafaela Konidi), a young woman who has a bizarre skin condition. She lives with her elderly father, who becomes enraged when he awakens and finds Panos. When Panos returns the next day with medicine for Danae, he fights the father, injures him and takes the father into town. When he comes to care for Danae again, he gets lost on the way back to town, having to stay with Danae.
Danae speaks in a antiquated manner. She obsesses over keeping the fire going in the house. (It is “the life blood that keeps the home alive.”) She has a deep connection with the earth and the woods around her. Soon Danae and Panos develop a closeness. But Panos begins to suspect that there is something else going on.
The first clue to this puzzle is something Panos’s brother says to him at their father’s funeral. “Science doesn’t have all the answers, as much as you might want it to.” What Panos encounters with Danae is certainly outside of his understanding to the world. Danae is full of mystery and a mystical realm much different than the scientific world that Panos has grounded himself in.
We often think of myth, legend, and fairy tales as entertaining stories, often directed at children. But as those who have waded in the Grimm Brothers will know, fairy tales are often very dark. All those times some child wandered into the woods and faced wolves, bears, and witches were meant as warnings to stay away from the woods. That is the atmosphere that Entwined develops. The things that happen in these woods are not something that Panos can address with medicine or science. Realism and mysticism come into conflict as Panos tries to understand and eventually try to find his way out of this dangerous world.
Films that feature magical realism often open us to think of where we place our faith. Is the cosmos really only a clockwork universe that follows the rules of physics? Is there more to the world than what we can see with telescopes and microscopes? How do people who value both faith and science look at biblical stories of miracles? Can we truly live in both worlds? Can we find real life in only one?
Entwined opens August 28 in virtual cinema through local arthouses and will be available on VOD September 8.
Photos courtesy of Dark Star Pictures.