LAURYN LAZARUS (2022)by Austin Vaughn
The key to understanding Lauryn Lazarus is to learn what the film was inspired by. Published two years after her suicide, Slyvia Plath’s Lady Lazarus was a poem, published in 1965. Lady Lazarus is an allusion to the biblical character, Lazarus, who was resurrected by Jesus. The poem is commonly understood to be about Plath’s multiple suicide attempts throughout her life and her “rebirth” through those experiences. As a woman, during that period, society neglected Plath as a human being and viewed her as an object instead.
“Both of them displaying a heart seemingly being suffocated by
The way Nzale incorporates his inspiration for the film is quite cleverly done. For the majority of the film we’re shown a woman sitting on the ground, painting, as captivating jump cuts, and retro-like image (thanks to what seems to be a VHS camera, shooting the entire film), surround her. The director trio sneakily alludes to Lady Lazarus through multiple methods. Firstly, powerful narration, given by Lauryn Lazarus, herself (Lauryn Nwadike Creamer). The character voices the phrase “O’Sacred Heart Thee”, alluding to the hymn Sacred Heart. Creamer’s character then talks about how she feels the heavy weigh of expectations placed upon her by society, and how she “resents you for it”. This line can be interpreted in many different ways. One way, being the person or thing that Lazarus resents could be society, or the Sacred Heart representing her religion. Lazarus also mentions “mind over matter, brains on the wall” which could potentially refer to suicide.
Secondly, as the cinematographer of the film, Nzale’s visuals may seem vague at first, but through this interpretation of the film, his allusions are clear. Lazarus is shown drawing two different paintings, both of them displaying a heart seemingly being suffocated by a cross. Perhaps this goes back to the line in which Lazarus resents her “Sacred Heart”, representing her feeling trapped by her religion. Crosses are shown throughout the film, with Lazarus wearing a rosary over her heart being the most important one, alluding to the paintings she draws throughout the film. In some scenes, a cat appears to be distracting Lazarus from her work. Eventually, she grabs the cat and pulls it out of the room. This is another shot that alludes to Lady Lazarus; the cat represents the belief of nine lives that, both Plath, and now, Creamer’s lost character has.
The final shot of the film consists of Lazarus crying a tear of blood whilst holding onto the cat. This is the most powerful shot in the piece. The shot presumably represents Creamer’s character ultimately finding peace in life through her death. Her holding the cat represents both death and life. However, no matter how you interpret the film, the fact that remains is this - Nzale, Manning, and Creamer were able to create a poetic piece of art. It is brutal, obscure, dark, but yet, somehow, peaceful in a sense. I recommend this film to anyone who wants to not only enjoy the strong visuals of this work, but be enamored by the deep messages the film hides.
Written by Jordy Nzale, Nicole Manning, and Lauryn Creamer Nwadike
Directed by Jordy Nzale, Nicole Manning, and Lauryn Creamer Nwadike
Cinematography by Jordy Nzale
Edited by Jordy Nzale
Composed by Joanne Robertson
Here’s the link to watch the full short film: Lauryn Lazarus
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