Belinda Schmid's short film Trespass tells the story of how peace is disturbed when a car of youths arrives at a desolate lakeside property, waking its lone inhabitant John MacFarlane from his dream of a mysterious water woman.
Director’s Notes - Belinda Schmid
“Trespass is the demystification of New Zealand archetype of The Man Alone; similar to the lone hero in American westerns. Based on James K. Baxter’s poem The Ballad of John MacFarlane, the challenge in adapting the poem for film was to preserve the subtext and meaning of the original text, but also bring to screen some of the character elements that would not have translated directly from the poem.
John Macfarlane is the embodiment of masculine virtues: strength, stoicism, aggression, and independence. However, his dream life reveals a vulnerability not acknowledged in his conscious life, a desire for human contact and acceptance of the emotions he feels he must repress in order to be a man.
We specifically chose to film at Lake Tekapo in the South Island, because of its lack of vegetation, burnt grass, and dry earth, thus depicting the parched, sun baked, and desolate world that Macfarlane inhabits. The use of water in Trespass is linked to the woman, who represents Macfarlane’s subconscious needs, and in Jungian terms his sexuality and emotions, its absence from Macfarlane’s waking world suggests his attempt to survive and sustain himself without it.
The appearance of the water woman, a hallucination from Macfarlane’s subconscious, is symbolic of the breaking down of his stoic mask. She appears as both threatening and desirable.
Ultimately Macfarlane is threatened by her. He views his desire as a weakness, and because he has been repressed for so long, his desires have become magnified, more intense, harder to contain. He drinks in order to escape from his fear of losing control, but instead the alcohol acts as a catalyst to unleashing his feelings, widens the cracks, and reveals the damaged man beneath the mask.”