“The history of cinema was silent to start with,” Charlie Cattrall reminds us. “I almost think, because it’s such a a visual medium, language should be the last thing you should use in a film.”
Charlie’s work is often silent, and it doesn’t always follow a clear-cut story. Using the body as narrative, he explores notions of power, sexuality and the artistic life.
His short film The Murmuring closely follows a dancer’s skin in motion. It’s sinister and uncanny, and it ends with the protagonist’s body in ambiguous and uncomfortable poses. The feature film Jewel, currently in pre-production, is about a dancer that sacrifices his morals for creative satisfaction.
At first glance, Charlie’s work might seem dark, but that’s not what the English director is going for. “It’s funny, I see how it looks that way, but it’s never my aim to make dark pieces. Running through my films, I think there’s this sense that there’s a deeper meaning to life. I believe art can connect with this more substantial, transcendent, thing.
“The greatest artistic things I’ve experienced felt like they pointed at something fundamental about our existence here,” he explains. The characters in Charlie’s films often search for this deeper meaning, but look in slightly the wrong direction. They burn up, but in doing so, they experience something fundamental.
“My work is more about the journey from the dark into the light,” he explains. “When I create stories, I try to get under the skin of life – metaphorically and literally. I think that’s what interests me about the body as well.
“When I was a kid I thought dance was just ballet,” he continues. “But 83 per cent of communication is non-verbal and dancers are so expert, so subtle, in the use of their body to express things.”