2023 | Sweden, Denmark | Documentary

Fantastic Machine

  • Swedish, English, French, German, Arabic 85 mins
  • Director | Axel Danielson, Maximilien Van Aertryck
  • Producer | Axel Danielson, Maximilien Van Aertryck

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A meticulous dissection of image-making and a mapping of its movement through society, directors Axel Danielson and Maximilien Van Aertryck use a mind-boggling array of archival footage to collage this sociological study by tracking the transmogrification of photographic philosophy and technology over human history. Weaving and contrasting some of the most iconic, harrowing, and viral images in our collective memory with user-generated footage that transports the viewer through time, space, and experience, Danielson and Van Aertryck intricately fashion an argument about how humans see ourselves that feels rigorous, learned, and current.

The signature analytical style this directing duo developed collaborating on shorts maps beautifully to this, their directorial debuts, arriving them to the features sphere with intellectual verve and universally accessible breadth. Their efforts to contextualize consequential imagery and trace its propagation feels critically vital in the current climate of slippery truths and altered realities. Balancing critical examination with delightful surprises, they put their footage in cacophonous, lively, enlightening conversation. For a film concerned with the construction of image, Fantastic Machine does that very thing with smarts, humor, and great stamina.