I am incredibly excited about this blog post because it’s all about celebrating World Poetry Day!
Launching on World Poetry Day on 21st March 2021, inVERSE is a collection of five of the world’s oldest surviving poems re-imagined for the 21st century through the medium of film, by the award-winning film maker Jack Jewers.
Each film takes an ancient poem as a prism through which to explore the world today. With historical poems ranging from the 1st Century Italy to 1500 BCE Mesopotamia, these five short films explore time and the human condition using the language of the ancients and the modern film making techniques of the 21st century. In celebration of humanity’s long relationship with poetry on World Poetry Day, these five films are a reminder that in these troubled modern times, poetry still has the ability to sooth and inspire.
Far from being dry, remote echoes of a long-gone age, each poem chosen for the collection feels like it could have been written yesterday. And why shouldn’t they? People are people. Our dreams are nothing new. Our ancestors had the same hopes and fears that we do. And if we can understand this, perhaps it helps to put some of the problems of our modern world into perspective.
The five films being released to mark World Poetry Day on Sunday 21st March are:
· Love Song – An Egyptian love poem written in 1400 BCE reveals a meditation on the meaning of relationship and gender in 2021.
· Long Wall – A poem about loss and suffering from the Han Dynasty in China, opens up a conversation about Europe’s refugee crisis.
· My Heart – Originating from ancient Mesopotamia, “My Heart Flutters Hastily” is a delightful reminder that those giddy, dizzy feelings you can get when you really like somebody are nothing new.
· The Look – A first century poem taken from Ovid’s Ars Amarosa is reimagined as a celebration of inclusivity and tolerance.
· The Dawn – The ancient Indian poet Kālidāsa’s Salutation to the Dawn transforms into a rallying cry for a better tomorrow led by young street protestors.
All five of the films are available free to watch via the inverse website inversefilm.uk.
Jack Jewers is a filmmaker and writer. Passionate about telling stories in all media, his body of work crosses film, TV, and digital. His short films and web series have been shown in and out of competition at dozens of film and web festivals, including Cannes, New York, Washington D.C., Marseille, Dublin, and London’s FrightFest.
In 2014 he developed and directed Night School, a web series based on the popular young adult novels of the same name. It quickly grew from a couple of low-budget short films to become one of the highest-profile British web series to date. Jack’s numerous short films as director include the critically-acclaimed Shalom Kabul, a dark comedy based on the true story of the last two Jews of Afghanistan.
Jack has won several accolades for his film work, including an award from the Royal Television Society and a nomination for Best Short Film by BAFTA Wales. He has been invited to speak about his work at several major film and TV industry events, including Series Mania in Paris. Jack has also worked in advertising.
Through his production company, Queen Anne’s Revenge, Jack is currently in development on the fantasy TV series Whatever After, featuring Jessica Brown Findlay. He is also working on a small slate of feature film projects, including a thriller set in the international protest movement, entitled Generation Revolution.
Away from the cinema in all its forms, Jack has a deep interest in literature and history. He writes historical fiction, and is the co-founder of the publishing company Moonflower Books.
He lives near London with his wife, the author Christi Daugherty, a small menagerie of pets, and a friendly ghost. But that’s another story.
Love Song – Based on the poem The Flower Song Anon. Egypt, c.1400 BCE. (Abridged).
Watch here: https://inversefilm.uk/watch/love-song
A timeless declaration of love and desire, this poem feels as fresh today as it did when it was written – a long, long time ago. The imagery is strikingly sensual; how the narrator describes the sound of their true love’s voice as being like the taste of sweet wine; or wishing they were her very her clothes, so that they could forever be close to her body. It’s passionate, erotic, and quite beautiful
Long Wall – Based on the poem He Waters His Horse By A Breach in the Long Wall Anon. China, c.120 BCE
Watch here: https://inversefilm.uk/watch/long-wall
Jack Jewers says: The first time I read this anonymous poem – dating from the Han Dynasty in China, sometime around 120BCE – I was blown away by its age. How can a poem this rich and vivid be so old? The idea for this whole series of films grew from there. The poem conveys such poignant feelings of separation and loss that it seemed to be perfectly suited to a tale of refugees, far from home.
My Heart – Based on the poem My Heart Flutters Hastily Anon. Mesopotamia, c.1500 BCE
Watch here: https://inversefilm.uk/watch/my-heart
Originating from ancient Mesopotamia, “My Heart Flutters Hastily” is a delightful reminder that those giddy, dizzy feelings you can get when you really like somebody are nothing new. Whether it’s in a world of dating apps and socially-distanced love, or from a time that feels unimaginably distant, people have been falling in love the same way forever.
The Look – Based on the poem Take Care With How You Look from Ars Amarosa by Ovid. Italy, 1st Century CE. (Abridged).
Watch here: https://inversefilm.uk/watch/the-look
The Romans knew how to have a good time. The Look is an abridged version of ‘Take Care With How You Look,’ a chapter from Ars Amarosa (“The Art of Love”), by the poet Ovid. Its themes of rejecting false nostalgia about the past, and embracing the richness of the modern age, sounded to me like a celebration of inclusivity and tolerance. Of course, Ovid was writing about a very different age to our own, but the message holds as true today as it always has been. And what more fabulous harbingers this message than Drag Queens United?
The Dawn – Based on the poem Salutation to the Dawn by Kālidāsa (attributed) – India, c.400 CE
Watch here: https://inversefilm.uk/watch/the-dawn
Considered the greatest poet of ancient India, Kālidāsa is a founding figure of world literature. And yet, a lot of mystery surrounds Kālidāsa. Some scholars even question whether he was a real person, suggesting instead that his work a kind of collected greatest hits of the ancient Sanskrit world. And perhaps it’s appropriate that such an inspiring poem was written by a semi-mythical figure. It sounds to me like a rallying cry for a better tomorrow. And who better to get that across than young street protestors?
You can read all five poems on the inverse website here: https://inversefilm.uk/the-poems
Watch Dawn here: