Yearbook (2014) dir. Bernardo Britto
It’s the end of the world! But don’t worry, we’ve got some time.
We talk with some frequency about canons and Best Of lists, ways of crowning the worthiest bits of culture but always with the understanding that all other candidates are available for context.
Everybody’s played with some form of the “desert island” game, a personal twist on canonization. If stranded on a desert island – apparently with the means to play and preserve a limited amount of media – what book/album/movie would you want with you? It asks not just what pieces of media are most important, but what pieces are most important to you to the exclusion of all others. What would you keep if you didn’t have access to anything less than your personally determined best? Do you take your top five of all time? Or would you feel the need to dig a little farther down the list for the sake of variety?
Now a step further: what if everything was to be destroyed and you’re choosing the cultural artifacts that survive for everybody. I imagine that list is different than either a canon, where something isn’t destroyed for not being included, or the desert island list, where you can account for your own memory and understanding of culture. But in this scenario you have to consider the education future generations. How do you pick Vertigo if there aren’t any other Hitchcocks? What’s the value of Airplane! without Airport?
“Yearbook” applies that thought experiment to the entirety of human history. Eventually the impossibility of preserving any one thing if you can’t preserve its context weighs on our weary hero and his personal, quite understandable, crisis reaches its boiling point when he applies that impossibility to his own preservation, alien missal or no. I can’t quite say the ending resolves this in a comforting way, but there’s comfort in knowing these kind of questions are being contemplated by others drifting in circles in their office chairs, wondering who will remember the catfish.