Celebrate World Poetry day with inVerse, a collection of five of the world’s oldest surviving poems, re-imagined for the 21st century.
Filmed during lockdown 2020, the inVerse series is a collection of films that are the brainchild of BAFTA-nominated filmmaker Jack Jewers – the film director behind the award-winning adaptations of CJ Daugherty’s bestselling Night School series, published by Little Brown. The inVerse series also features narration from Adam Roche, host of the Secret History of Hollywood podcast.
Each short film takes a historical poem, ranging from 15,000 BC to 1,000 AD, as a prism through which to explore our modern world. Far from being dry, remote echoes of a long-gone age, each poem chosen for the collection feels like it could have been written yesterday, offering new meaning and a fresh perspective on some of the key global issues we face today.
Based on the poem The Flower Song Anon. Egypt, c.1400 BCE. (Abridged). An Egyptian love poem written in 1400 BCE reveals a meditation on the meaning of relationship and gender in 2021.
A timeless declaration of love and desire, this poem feels as fresh today as it did when it was written – a long, long time ago. The imagery is strikingly sensual; how the narrator describes the sound of their true love’s voice as being like the taste of sweet wine; or wishing they were her very her clothes, so that they could forever be close to her body. It’s passionate, erotic, and quite beautiful.
None of the couples you see in the film had met before they came into the studio on the bright, spring day on which it was filmed – with one exception. The older couple is Alfred and Leila Hoffman, who were 92 and 83 at the time of filming, who have been together for over 60 years. The velvet-voiced narration is provided by Adam Roche, host of the Secret History of Hollywood podcast – required listening for all classic movie fans.
Based on the poem Waters His Horse By A Breach in the Long Wall Anon. China, c.120 BCE. It’s a poem about loss and suffering from the Han Dynasty in China, opens up a conversation about Europe’s refugee crisis.
The refugee crisis is close to actress Sophia Eleni’s heart. Her mother fled the war in Cyprus in the mid-1970s, Most of the footage that ends the film was donated by the charity Refugee Rescue, who undertake tireless work saving desperate people at sea.
Based on the poem Heart Flutters Hastily Anon. Mesopotamia, c.1500 BCE. Originating from ancient Mesopotamia, “My Heart Flutters Hastily” is a delightful reminder that those giddy, dizzy feelings you can get when you really like somebody are nothing new.
inVERSE started life in a world before anyone had ever heard the word ‘Covid’ and lockdown was something to do with home security. So when the world ground to a half in the spring of 2020, Jack had to find alternative ways of finishing the project. Working with Los Angeles-based actress Joanne Chew, Jack devised a method of directing over Zoom while she recorded the takes on her phone, as selfies. The result is the lightest of the five films and the sweetest.
Based on the poem Take Care With How You Look from Ars Amarosa by Ovid. Italy, 1st Century CE. (Abridged). A first-century poem taken from Ovid’s Ars Amarosa is reimagined as a celebration of inclusivity and tolerance.
The Romans knew how to have a good time. The Look is an abridged version of ‘Take Care With How You Look,’ a chapter from Ars Amarosa (“The Art of Love”), by the poet Ovid. Its themes of rejecting false nostalgia about the past, and embracing the richness of the modern age, sounded to me like a celebration of inclusivity and tolerance. Of course, Ovid was writing about a very different age to our own, but the message holds as true today as it always has been. And what more fabulous harbingers this message than Drag Queens United?
This is the only INSIGHT short that was put together from found footage, rather than filmed specially for the series. The lovely, colourful, joyous shots of Drag Queens United were taken at Amsterdam Pride in 2017.
Based on the poemSalutation to the Dawn by Kālidāsa (attributed) – India, c.400 CE transforms into a rallying cry for a better tomorrow led by young street protestors.
Considered the greatest poet of ancient India, Kālidāsa is a founding figure of world literature. And yet, a lot of mystery surrounds Kālidāsa. Some scholars even question whether he was a real person, suggesting instead that his work a kind of collected greatest hits of the ancient Sanskrit world.
The protestors are all professional dancers, who had the strength and balance necessary to be able to keep still for extended periods of time – often in difficult and uncomfortable poses.
You can read all five poems on the inverse website here: https://inversefilm.uk/the-poems