Les Dieux Changeants is an experimental short film directed and produced by Lucio Arese, depicting the destruction and collapse of ancient Greek and Roman statues.
Started as a series of technical tests and dynamic simulations involving fragmentation and destruction of 3d objects, the project has grown to a point much further than a simple 3d work and in the end it became an experimental short film with a philosophical significance.
The developement took place during the second Covid-19 winter lockdown in Italy, through November 2020 to March 2021. 3Ds Max and Vray have been used for the production. All the texturing has been done with Substance Painter. All the fragmentations and dynamic simulations have been created with RayFire, a fantastic plugin for 3ds Max developed by Mir Vadim. The piano rendition of the Chopin Nocturne has been created entirely digitally on MIDI files using Reaper and Kontakt with a good Steinway library.
Everything in this film is inteded to be simple and essential with much care on details and photography. Black backgrounds, one moving lightsource for every statue, basic editing, letting the sculptures speak for themeselves in light and darkness.
The act of destruction is depicted allegorically as an uncertain process oscillating between negative annihilation and positive creativity, readable on many levels and left open to the viewer to discern. The interpretation is open to everyone with the emblematic end quote from Nietzsche’s Zarathustra. It could represent the end of something, a transformation, a cycle, a re-evaluation of established values, the beginning of something new or just something mysterious or fascinating to look at.
Chopin Nocturne op. 27 n. 2 is the musical counterpart of the short film. Its intimate sweet melancholy opposed to the kinetic brutality of the statues disgregating creates a contrast which gives force and delicacy, primitive energy and decadence at the same time.
The ending of Les Dieux Changeants contains a closing statement: a citation from Friedrich Nietzsche’s “Thus Spake Zarathustra”: this emblematic thought from the German thinker perfectly sums up the multifaceted meaning of Les Dieux Changeants and confers a philosophical overlay to the whole work:
But a stronger power grows out of your values, and a new overcoming: by it breaks egg and egg-shell.
And he who has to be a creator in good and evil—verily, he has first to be a destroyer, and break values in pieces.
Thus does the greatest evil pertain to the greatest good: that, however, is the creating good.—
Let us speak thereof, you wisest ones, even though it be bad. To be silent is worse; all suppressed truths become poisonous.
And let everything break up which—can break up by our truths! Many a house is still to be built!—
Thus spake Zarathustra.