Review: Kevin Kopacka’s ‘Tlmea,’ Second Part of Proposed Trilogy
By: J. Carlos Menjivar
Last year when I first began writing for We are Indie Horror I was tasked, for my first assignment, with reviewing the avant-garde experimental film Hades (read review here), by German filmmaker Kevin Kopacka. The film is about a woman’s metaphorical descent down the river Styx, infused with Greek mythology, existential themes, and incredible visuals. Now, I have the honor of tackling Kopacka’s second short film (and prequel to Hades) Tlmea, a 33 minute visually stunning allegorical trip down the nine rings of Hell.
If the strange letter arrangement sounds vaguely familiar that’s because the film’s title is a shortened version of Ptolomea. According to Dante Alighieri and his epic poem Inferno, Ptolomea is located in the ninth and final ring of Hell which is broken down into four subsequent subcategories. The Ninth ring represents treachery against other people, and the third subset (Ptolomea) of the ninth ring represents treachery against guests and/or friends. For those unfamiliar, with Dante’s Inferno, it is a larger part of The Divine Comedy (the other parts are Paradise and Purgatory) with Inferno dealing with Dante’s descent into Hell along with Roman poet Virgil, in a journey that would come to define Dante, Medieval literature, and Christianity and its ideas and views on Hell.
Nevertheless, Tlmea, about two undercover cops who interrogate a silent Russian captive, metaphorically travel through the nine rings of hell in a dream state. The film is fragmented into nine parts, quasi-segments, which descend from the first level of Hell (Limbo) where unbaptized individuals and “virtuous pagans” end up and ends all the way in the final and ninth ring, which is defined by its icy lake Cocytus. Just like Kopacka’s previous film, Hades, this film is fragmentary, dreamlike, and visually compelling. Tlmea is striking and raw, a visual composite of the themes it’s trying to portray, which includes existentialism in a world of classical myths and medieval lore, as an explanation for the what lies beyond our existence and our propensity for misery (especially towards others). Shot in the same manner as Hades, this film features pristine and eerie HD footage with Super 8 sequences, excellently and cohesively put together to create a lyrical and profound surreal existential epic.
Impressively, Kevin Kopacka takes a work from the medieval ages and finds a way to modernize it, contextualizing through a modern lens, and making it unequivocally his own. Kopacka is not the type of filmmaker to simplify anything, instead synthesizing the old and the new, juxtaposing a canonical religious work within a relevant and familiar real-world setting. Tlmea continues the dreamlike scenarios and tropes used in his previous work Hades, but with Tlmea it feels much more sophisticated and palpably complex, expanding and exceeding his previous effort.
Anna Heidegger, Cris Kotzen, Iman Rezai and H.K. DeWitt return from Hades and appear in Tlmea.
You can learn more about the filmmaker and Tlmea, as well as Hades, on his official website.