“It Took Forever to Fall Asleep;” excerpt, 2021, 1 minute, 47 seconds; stereo; black and white.
Produced and directed by Robert Hamilton. Audio editing by Robert Hamilton with an original audio recording by mario1981. Full length is 1 hour 44 minutes.
This film methodically illuminates a ghostly cityscape at night, frozen in time; a transformative reflection of the COVID world we find ourselves in today. The film is a steady, gradual exploration of a miniature landscape constructed in the early 1960s by David Lee, a lawyer from Dundas, Ontario. Built in relative isolation in his basement and untouched for 50 years, the details are fascinating – finely fabricated buildings and streets, working lights, hundreds of hand-painted figures spread among the lush rolling papier-maché landscapes. The diorama suggests a reflection on identity and community – a fractured series of rough representations, tableaux and narratives. There is a deep sense of melancholy in these delicate and static constructions, with thematic parallels echoing current events.
“It Took Forever to Fall Asleep” reflects on the opportunity for the potential rebirth a post-COVID world offers, whether this rebirth comes by public policy or public self-determination. Just as the 1950s came to a close, so too will COVID. Eras end, and with them come change.