Fabien Vehlmann and Kerascoët ISBN: 9781770461291
A cast of cute little characters show us the horrors of humanity via the childish conceits of pettiness, jealousy, greed and two-facedness. Sound familiar? If yes, you’ve obviously watched shows like The Apprentice or, y’know, just met… people. And all this is set throughout the turning of four seasons in a forest next to, around and on the corpse of a little girl.
Beautiful Darkness is a strange tale indeed. By the author’s own admission, it is ambiguous throughout. Even the protagonist, Aurora, is deliberately two-dimensional and difficult to empathise with.
I relish this type of storytelling. The story that we’re not told but are forced to think about because that’s how our little human brains work. The story we see focuses on this strange cast of characters and their odd, almost Lord of the Flies-esque existence. However, the story of that little girl becomes the more visible story in our minds by virtue of it being the story that is not told.
The girl is background. She’s furniture; just another rock or shrub or fallen log in the forest, decaying and weathering over time. But, since I am a mortal human creature, I couldn’t help all the brain wonderings about this fellow human. How did the girl die? Was she murdered? Did she have a fit? Is anyone looking for her? There wasn’t much in her satchel, was she robbed? Does any of this matter; she’s just part of the set?
The naïve cartoony lines of the little people become a defined contrast to their swift decline into savagery – or as could be interpreted, their acceptance of modern cut-throat culture.
I wonder if we can judge the actions of these horrid creatures knowing they represent something in our own natures that reminds us of typical school-yard behaviour… and typical adult behaviour for some – I’m looking at you, contestants on nearly every reality show ever.