Saturday, June 5, 2010

Ink. (2009) Jamin Winans

One of the regular posters at A&F created a thread for Ink, and I'm so glad he did or I wouldn't have been introduced to this fine, fun
sci-fi indie that surprised me with its originality and knocked me out with its passionate form. It's well acted and holds your attention with rapid, blink-of-the-eye edits. It never lets down in imagination, and keeps you constantly guessing ahead while thoroughly enjoying the moment you're in.

It's a multi-dimensional tale about a little girl, her up and down relationship with her dad, and the supernatural beings that influence their decisions, their surroundings, and their future together. The beings are somewhat typical of the "good vs. bad" scenario that reminds me of angels and demons in the old Frank Peretti book,
This Present Darkness
. In this case the would-be angels are called "Storytellers," beings which can influence good dreams at night and fight for your healthy existence on earth, and the would-be demons are "Incubi," who give you bad dreams and want to steal and destroy your hope.

There's also a third set of characters who kind of wander between these two extremes. The main character, Ink, is one of these -- or at least you think he is for a time -- and when little girl Emma falls into a coma, he kidnaps her to his hidden dark world. Warfare in the heavens, or at least in other dimensions (depending on your interpretation), ensues.

Whether it is intended I don't know, but there's a wealth of Judeo-Christian symbolism to be found. Aside from the rather obvious Peretti-style symbolism, there's also the Storytellers' complete dedication to their selfless cause, eventually leading to sacrifice in order to save someone else. There's also one rich scene in particular that describes the common rhythm of life, the ebb and flow we collectively experience. Finding that rhythm, breathing in that moment, understanding your place in life and following your calling is the implied expression of a believer's role in the world.

Ink is its own film, but immediate comparisons have to be made. It simply harkens back to other sources. The highly stylized expressionism reminded me of The Cell, maybe even The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari; the dimensional soul-searching, the longing to get a grip on life and death made it seem like a much better version of The Fountain; the behind the scenes Incubi and Storytellers are reminiscent of the wonder of the angels in Wings of Desire; but most of all I was reminded of Dark City, in its hope for human redemption in fighting against the darkness, and in the sacrifice that brings overcoming change.

It also feels like Primer or Memento, in that you know you want to revisit it again -- maybe more than once, maybe even once a year.

A husband and wife team called the Winans pulled the whole production together. You can tell from their commentary on the DVD Extras -- a commentary I still want to finish just to see if they mention any of the Christian-like ideas -- that they enjoy each other and loved working together on Ink, and they're very proud of their accomplishment. They should be. The post-production work is phenomenal, and for an indie sci-fi film, it's an incredibly masterful experience.


  1. Oh my gash.. People.. This movie is so HIGH ! That i even dont have any other movie to compare with.. This is Absolutely BEST movie I have ever seen. Actors did they're job more than perfect,soundtrack is awesome,and the main idea expressed in so unique way,that after waching it, you have lot of thing to think of.. Personaly i would recomend to wach this movie to EVERYONE ! And i would place it in the 1st place at IMDB top 250. Thats my opinion,you can disagree,but only one thing makes me sad,that this movie has'nt reached the large cinema screen.

    ANYWAY DONT LISTEN those guys,just wach this if you havent seen it before,and you will see that I'm saying true :)

  2. The Storyteller is a Christ figure. Yep the whole movie seems really Christian to me. But, not in a way that would keep anyone from being able to watch and enjoy the movie on any number of levels.

  3. Agreed, Marcos! But since it's been six or seven months, I really need to see it again. I just found out that it's available via Netflix Instant Viewing! Perhaps I'll watch it tonight...

  4. I discovered this movie via the instant viewing on netflix and I have to say that I was blown away. This movie should be an award winner simply on cinematography alone. I've never been so enthralled with a plot. Capturing elements of action, drama, horror, and fantasy is difficult, especially to have those emotions conveyed to the best of their abilities. I felt for Emma, her father, and the story tellers. Costumes A+, especially the incubi, their tv screens conveying false happiness was a modern twist to a common negative element in movies.

  5. Glad to hear you liked it, Christopher!

    I went back to it recently again myself. I really believe this is one that picks up steam as it goes. It's one that sticking with to the end definitely pays off!

    Good to hear from you at Filmsweep, btw.

  6. "For me, one day is like a thousand years, and thousand years is like one day..."

  7. Is that from the film, Einar? I don't remember that part at all.

  8. Ink just became one of my favorite movies of all time. I watched it again almost immediately after seeing it the first time.

    The phrase "For me, one day is like a thousand years..." is one of the key elements in the film. When Emma asks the storyteller (Liev) "How long have you been a storyteller?" Liev replies, "It depends on how you measure time. It's different for day is like a thousand years" (something like that - don't know the exact quote).


    I thought I had it figured out, but couldn't resolve how the events were happening at the same time. When Ink mentioned that the Storyteller had the ability to undo things that had already been done, everything became clear.

    ***end spoiler***

    A great movie!

  9. Well said, Kevin!

    I think the exact quote you referred to is the reason Ink is seen by some as a metaphor for Christian spiritualism.

    2 Peter 3:8 — "But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day."

    I'm not certain it all adds up, but the language is pulled straight out of the New Testament.

  10. I just watched this last night and am totally with you guys! It was amazing... the only other movie out there that came close to this level of detail and Christian Symbolism is Book of Eli. Even that Movie doesn't hold the power I feel Ink does. Ink, really nails it down and shows what grace really is, what love really looks like, and how it doesn't matter how terrible a person you think you are, God really does care about you and want a relationship with you. Absolutely profound!

  11. Hi Anonymous!

    If The Book of Eli speaks to you, I think that's great, but personally I think it is as aesthetically pleasing as it is horribly thought out. It's got some style, but if it is true that the Denzel character is someone chosen by God, then God has chosen a path of violence and bloodshed rather than any other path we would hope from a Christian God who is supposed to be about love, the salvation of the world, the culmination of the ages at the reconciliation of all things. In this way, The Book of Eli reminds me of another flawed film, The Matrix, however The Matrix was so revolutionary when it came out, and I was a younger (and better duped) viewer back then, so I am more easily swayed by The Matrix, I suppose. I do still like the idea of Neo waking up to find himself, his real self, the self he was created for. I have always liked that symbolism in the first film and think that the idea, outside of the violence, is a great portrait of rebirth.

    If you are looking for a great list of films of spiritual significance, though, I heartily recommend the list I've been writing a bit about for the past month, a list which comes from the A&F community I'm a part of. You will find that list of 100 films here:

    And you're more than welcome to throw your voice into the threads of thoughts and opinions at our board. :)

  12. Yeah, so, super old thread and probably not read anymore, but damn, what a good movie. Would love to have a conversation over some coffee with the Winans. I've read in other places that the "How can a loving God allow evil" question is major source of his creative process. If you've seen "The Frame" which is a newer film from the Winans, you'll see a lot of similar symbolism. So, so refreshing to see someone producing creative, compelling, spiritually meaningful work without trope or stereotype. May he do a dozen more.


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