The Quiet: outer space as metaphor for inner space in a film of duality and opposites

Radheya Jegavetha, “The Quiet” (2020)

Created entirely by director Radheya Jegavetha and his father Jay Jay Jegathesan who co-wrote and co-produced the short and provided the voice-over narration, “The Quiet” is a moving and ultimately heart-breaking work. It combines breath-taking visuals with an immersive and compelling story that gradually becomes darker and filled with horror. Climaxing in a terrifying twist that puts the entire story told so far in a completely new light, the film revolves around and explores a theme of duality, especially duality that contains within itself individuals or concepts simultaneously attracted to and repelled by each other. Inner space and outer space turn out to be not so different from each other in spite of the vast physical distances between the space between our ears and the space beyond Earth. The silence of outer space, initially peaceful and mind-expanding, finds its counterpart in the silence of inner space that ends in self-torture and ultimately madness as the unreliable narrator reveals himself not to be the astronaut he claims to be but the murderer.

The story is told with ingenious animation (using space imagery put by NASA into the public domain) that pushes the metaphors of twinning, polarities and oppositions to their utmost, embellishing and embellished by Jegathesan’s calm, almost hypnotic narration as he plays the part of the astronaut floating in space and pondering the vastness of the universe. Images of the sun and the galaxies serve as metaphors for turning on the stove and frying eggs sunny side up! Similar liberties are taken with the use of stars and galaxies to portray other, more mundane Earth-bound objects such as salt and diamonds. The entire film becomes a visual poem with each metaphor having multiple meanings, and the even actual story itself, told in a minimal and emotionally remote way, will have viewers wondering if the narrator is suffering from a fragmented personality disorder. The film ends on the same note as it began with the narrator pondering what silence means for him – except of course that the meaning has flipped to its dark twin.

One of the oldest plot devices in the world – the narrator having an identical twin brother – yet again inspires an original and clever work that explores how lives can go astray and be destroyed through greed and small random accidents leading to murder, imprisonment, bad treatment and madness. A film that appears to be about outer space turns out to be an investigation of human psychology.