Sonic Cinema

Sounds, Visions and Insights by Brian Skutle

Return to the Garden (Short)

Grade : A+ Year : 2015 Director : Jake Hutchison & D. Erik Parks Running Time : 14min Genre : ,
Movie review score

The first thing we see is a man and a woman (Isaiah Stratton and Allee Sutton Hethcoat) in the woods. They are in love, and spending time out with nature, including a nearby waterfall. We next see them in church, where the priest is recounting the story of Adam and Eve. Next thing we know, they are pregnant and getting ready for the baby. And then, tragedy strikes. Now, they are adrift in a life together, not really communicating with one another. This is when it gets the hardest, and when they need to fight the strongest, for their life together to work.

Jake Hutchinson and D. Erik Parks’s “Return to the Garden” has, as it’s framing device, the backdrop of the story of the Garden of Eden, but that merely is used as a parallel to symbolizing the strife our couple deals with after they have the greatest joy in their lives taken away from them. This is the type of film I love best when it comes to integrating religious teachings and faith into a narrative- it’s pronounced enough to offer a powerful insight to the story, but doesn’t hit you on the head with a particular religious message, either. This is a story about regaining faith in the only thing that mattered before a devastating loss, and it’s a powerful story, elegantly told by the directors in a simple manner, with the music by Max Hoffman and Lucas Morton doing as much to tell the story as dialogue. It’s a tone poem about love rediscovered after loss, and it’s a beautiful thing to watch.

One Response so far.

  1. After watching “Return to the Garden,” I was forced to sit down and think about it for awhile. There is beauty yet a haunting in “Return to the Garden” that captures what is behind our joy and pain we experience through life. The lead male actor referred to the pain as “it wasn’t supposed to be like this.” We start life with so much joy and freedom but pain, sin, and disappointment creep in and we are tempted to throw in the towel like this young couple considers. The movie naturally put me in a place to reflect on my own life and how I have experienced similar ups and downs. That is what a good film does, whether 2 hours or 15 minutes, it brings the viewer personally into the story. There are few filmmakers, who happen to be Christian, who have the courage and ability to let the visuals and story tell the message without shouting it out.

    Our world is lovely and tragic, and Parks nailed what is underneath this journey. I even sensed a young Terrence Malick in him in the style and storyline. Parks is an outstanding young writer and director and I am excited to see what is next.

    – Dave Schroeder
    Scenes of Life blog

Leave a Reply