When you can feel connected to the themes in a story from over 170 years ago, you can begin to understand how powerful it is. The Widow’s Last, telling the story of a family during the third year of The Great Hunger, in Ireland, is one that is as important now as the time from where it took its inspiration.
Throwing us into the grit and horror of 1848, the cinematography by Andy Catarisarno, along with colouring from Steffan Perry, helps to paint a glorious picture of sadness and despair. With this backdrop, we know the story won’t be pretty (I mean the death and stuff, not the visuals, ha!), and that we have to strap ourselves in for the truth of the time. I enjoy when historical films and TV shows add wild colours or funky music to invite a new audience, but for me, when things are kept accurate, it truly fills the film with so much more purpose.
Written and directed by Vanessa Perdriau, this powerful piece really comes together through its timeless story. The idea of karma, or good vs bad, is used a lot, but when The Great Hunger is the force behind the film, it really emphasises the point of it all, making it something new and unexpected. In our current world, with viruses and things changing, it can be so hard to know what’s right or wrong. But I think like in this film, we just have to treat others how we’d want to be treated. Whether taking in a neighbour, offering food to those who might need it, or just saying hello, we need each other to survive, and I think that Perdriau does a fantastic job in writing a script for both the time it’s set, and now.
I really liked the range of characters in this short. We weren’t on the side of the poor or the rich, we were there for both, and at times, neither. When films paint one of those groups to be the bad guys, it can make everyone on earth who is in that category seem like that too. But I really appreciated how this film was able to give each character their own emotions and thoughts about the other people, as well as space to grow from that too. For me, this script and its flow were so well paced, making the characters and the story feel very real, and not a work of fiction.
Period dramas can often feel slow and boring, but The Widow’s Last is so far from that. To see something that kept me gripped for the history, as well as themes that I can see in today’s society, really was a treat.