“Arte Factum” is a sci fi anthology film by “Wages of Cine” productions. Written and directed by Dan Beck and Duane Brown.
As an anthology, Arte Factum is composed of several different short stories connected by a central theme. In this film, each tale revolves around an ancient relic referred to as the Arte Factum, a mysterious orb containing boundless power, which drastically alters the lives of all those who encounter it.
The central story is situated at the Seven Bowls Tavern. A western style bar located in the middle of a nameless desert. Seeking the power of the Arte Factum, a woman enters the tavern where she meets a mysterious cloaked man. The man reveals the secrets of the Arte Factum through twelve stories about people whose lives permanently altered through their interactions with the Arte Factum.
The most striking element of the film involves the chaotic nature of the Arte Factum itself. Defying logic and existing beyond the confines of time and space the Arte Factum can appear anywhere and during any time period, therefore the stories span various time periods and settings from the middle ages of Europe to a distant future set in the far reaches of space. There’s no apparent logic regarding where the orb will appear. It manifestations seem completely arbitrary.
The Arte Factum acts as a force of nature, free of moral judgement its influence is unbiased and acts without regard for anyone unfortunate enough to find themselves within its power. Through the Arte Factum, some characters find salvation, ultimately benefitting from its presence. Others are less fortunate find undue suffering at the orbs presence. No one safe from the unpredictable nature of the Arte Factum. Fate is taken away from those who find the orb as they unwittingly surrender their autonomy.
The themes showcased throughout Arte Factum are perfectly summarized in the word of author H.P. Lovecraft, which briefly appears on screen as the film transitions from its first half to its second half. “The world is indeed comic, but the joke is on mankind”. This quote encapsulates the futility of struggle and forced submission experienced by of the characters of Arte Factum, whose self-determination is abruptly stolen from them the moment they came into contact with the Arte Factum. The horror of finding yourself helpless in the face of forces beyond reason and comprehension is both intriguing and unsettling.
The acting in Arte Factum is exceptional overall. While some performances came off as more experienced than others, there were no performances that broke immersion of the experience. This was helped greatly by the professional sound quality which was clear and concise while also remaining consistent throughout the film.
Despite its overall high quality, there were two noticeable problems in Arte Factum that were difficult to avoid noticing. The first problem involved the action scenes. During the physical confrontations the scenes would inexplicable slow down just as a punch or a strike was launched. This effect unfortunately broke some of the tension in what was intended to be scenes. However, this scenes were few and when put into proper context, these scenes were done quite well when the budget of this independent film is taken into consideration.
The second issue was in regards to the usage of CG. In general, I am not a not a fan of CGI, preferring practical effects if necessary. However, I am aware that practical effects can only go so far in regards to things such as explosions and background effects. Unfortunately, with the vast array of multi billion dollar CGI film, it’s difficult to avoid noticing cheaper and less realistic looking CGI. This is just an unfortunate reality of modern day film, and should not be held against the film and detract from its overall quality.
In conclusion, Arte Factum is a well-constructed film that explores complex topics in an intelligent and entertaining manner. Each story helped build upon the mystery behind the Arte Facte, culminating into a satisfying film experience.
*Special thanks to Dan Beck and “Wages of Cine” for their support of the show.