Questionable Circumstances

May 10, 2024

“Aporia” is a thought-provoking film, artistically directed by Estienne Rylle. The title of this short film bears the true essence of this work of art. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, “aporia” is a noun, depicting “a logical impasse or contradiction especially: a radical contradiction in the import of a text or theory that is seen in deconstruction as inevitable”. The etymology of the word indicates that it is of Greek origins and its original definition is“difficulty” or “perplexity.” This film covers many facets of human existence, and the storytelling is achieved purely using visuals and no dialogue. This film tackles subjects such as identity, vanity, self-ambition, frustration, life direction, focus, disappointment and grief.


The film, as a whole, tends to feel very disjointed. Viewers may have difficulty in finding a common theme throughout, due to the abstract imagery that is used. I believe that the creator may have been cognizant of this; visually, there is a common denominator of dark undertones that are used throughout the scenes. Subconsciously, it gives the message that the film does not have a “happy” theme, but it is mostly based on the negative aspects and failures of life. Likewise, light is utilized in a strategic manner to denote moments of illumination.

“Aporia” is a film that may have to be watched more than once in order to grasp the themes portrayed in the film, and even then, it is highly subjective and open to interpretation.  In order to truly benefit from the message that the director may be trying to convey, you must have a few moments of deep reflection about both the film, as well as life itself.

Creativity is at the forefront of this piece, and even the attire of some of the characters lends to the visual storytelling. However, most of these details can go over the head of the average viewer. It is definitely a film that will cause the viewer to consider and reconsider the conclusions that they came to at the first viewing. The more that it is replayed, the more certain details become highlighted. This aspect can either be positive or negative, depending on the audience. There is no instant gratification of understanding when it comes to this film. This can be frustrating for some, and thought-provoking for others. In a world where everything is presented in a manner that favours easy assimilation, “Aporia” causes you to pause in order to digest all of the imagery that is artistically put on display.

Symbolism is another quality of this film that contributes to its unique nature. However, one must have an eye to spot it. The play on the “black and white” contrasting colour scheme gives us the notion of the fundamentals of life. The frivolity of superfluous colours is deliberately avoided, causing the viewer to have the idea that the film is discussing the very base elements of life. Overall, it is a film that causes deep reflection even of one’s own life. I believe that this is something positive as humanity desperately needs to see something of substance in the media that will cause us all as a people to seriously reflect on our actions and thought patterns, and discern that which is expedient for our daily living within the will of God.


The film is riddled with depictions of life’s questions; namely, the 5 W’s: What, Who, When, Where, and Why. The formative years of our lives can be characterized as “the blind years” where we become acquainted with one of the “W” questions – What are my limitations? In a world that is so vast and dark, we see glimmers of hope shining through here and there, but we can never see the full picture. So like a blind person, we depend on the elements of our surroundings to give us an idea of where we are, where we stand, and where to take the next step. Our formative years (even into adulthood) are full of trial and error and missteps, all in an attempt to figure life out. Using our own devices as a guide, sometimes we get it, and sometimes, we just don’t, as we saw in this scene. The minute that the focus was shifted to the jewelry that the blind photographer was wearing, the focus that he once had, became fleeting. We have the option to learn and be illuminated by the light of Christ, or we have the option to be bullheaded and push forward in our arrogance and our pride. The latter is also a learning opportunity, however, it is a more painful one. In the meantime, we capture mental images of desirable elements that surround us, in an effort to have an idea of what reality we should create for ourselves. We see the silhouette of a body with fleeting smoke in the background, embodying the emptiness that many of us have when we begin to start to chase the images that we have created for ourselves, which leads us to the next scene.  

Taking on the cloak of this empty silhouette, the man starts to climb a ladder that leads to nowhere, making a futile effort to control the ticking clock of time. The emptiness within the heart of man, falsely tells him/her that fulfillment is found in the “not-so-simple” act of reaching for your goals. So arrogantly, not admitting to needing assistance, mankind strives and strives to “climb the ladder” that ultimately leads to nowhere, as time slips away. Years go by, and methods have changed, yet there is no progression. Therefore, frustration sets in; man starts to become angry at God for his predicament, when all the while, he never allowed Christ to be “Lord” over his life. It is one thing to acknowledge God, and it is another thing to have Him as your Lord. A Lord has total control and sovereignty over that which is given to Him to govern. Many accept Christ into their lives, but never really turn the driver’s wheel over to Him. So we have multitudes of believers who are overcome with worry and anxiety, because they have not genuinely handed their lives over to the One who loves them even more than they love themselves. The danger with seeing your own vision as the end-all-be-all is that you become closed to every other method that is not your method. God has a way of bringing deliverance in unconventional ways, and our hearts have to be able to trust the fact. He has something greater planned for our destiny than what we think is at the end of the “ladder”. The things that we stress about are so trivial compared to the magnitude of the glory that God is able to work through a vessel that is yielded to him. Unfortunately, the man in the film expresses his frustration to the point of suicide, confirming the passage in Proverbs 14:12 NKJV saying, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death”. Sin, anxiety and every other byproduct of it, came from the decision to yield to the counsel of the serpent back in the Garden of Eden. With this in the backdrop of the history of mankind, it will be to our benefit to yield to a superior intelligence, which is the Holy Spirit.  

This tragic scene also brings up another “W” question: “who am I?”The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of creation. He is the One who manifests the intangible. In a time where so many are looking for validation from external sources, He is the One who reveals our true essence and purpose. The man in the scene puts on a cloak that was ultimately not him. By the end of his struggle, we see him stripped down to his bare element. All of his frustration started once he had clothed HIMSELF with that garment. In the book of Genesis, when Adam sinned, he quickly hid himself to cover his nakedness. When God finally spoke to Him, He asked him: “Who told you that you were naked?”(Genesis 3:9-11 NKJV). The calamity always starts when we believe that something is wrong with us, as if God missed something during His creative processes. Indeed, we are descendents bearing the Adamic nature that gives us the propensity to be sinful beings, but through the sacrifice of Christ, we are now a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17 NKJV). There will always be an innate push to strive for excellence, however, there is a fine line between self-improvement and selfish ambition. The apostle Paul tells us that it is commendable when we covet spiritual gifting, however, in a time where the Bible describes mankind to be “lovers of themselves”, “lovers of money”, “proud” and “without self-control” (II Timothy 3:2-5 NKJV), we see a world where selfish ambition becomes the main life goal that eventually leads to death. It can be the death of the self (physical or emotional), or the death of a relationship (as we see at the end of the film). The joys of relationship, family and a thriving spiritual connection with God have been sacrificed on the altar of self-ambition.

The man in the second scene, reaches out for the clock, trying to grasp some level of control of the fleeting time, as he struggles in futility to attain goals that lead to absolutely nowhere, thus exacerbating his frantic state of frustration, which leads us to the 3rd“W”: “When?”  

The thought of not being in control of time is enough to make some people panic. Those who struggle with time management frequently find themselves being late to events, and it can become embarrassing. It is also often said that “opportunity knocks once” which tends to create an unnecessary and unrealistic urge for us to accomplish everything in one shot, and if it is not done, then we experience a sense of failure. Ironically, God does not operate in this fashion, but rather, He is the God of process. Going back to the creation of the world, everything was created in a certain sequence. Even Jesus, the Son of God, had to be processed. He did not only come to earth to demonstrate His deity among men, but He first came as a baby, and went through the fluctuations of life that come with adolescence and adulthood, all the while attaining new stages of growth, maturity, and favour. The main goal for many is the final blessing, but without God’s process, you can never maintain it. We are always trying to control the hands of time, but the main goal is to go according to God’s rhythm. He operates in this way, not because he does not want us to enjoy blessings, but because He wants to guarantee the longevity of it. This scene ends in tragedy and the unfortunate loss of life, for the sake of aiming for an illusion of grandeur.

The 4th question focuses on location: “Where am I going?” The little boy in the 3rd scene, flies a message in a particular direction, and in the next scene, we see a woman walking one direction and then the next. She observed the paper airplane in the air, began to follow it, but then suddenly stopped. Note that in both scenes, the sun was setting which, theoretically, should have given her a sense of urgency. By the time that she decided to focus on attaining the message, we see the imagery of birds fleeting, as she walks in slow motion in the opposite direction. The season for that message has now passed, as she observes it sinking into the water. We are not afforded the luxury of copious amounts of time. Clarity of direction, coupled with deliberate action are two of the elements that bring efficacy in daily living.

Direction in life is key, and the “message” that is available for all of us, is the Word of God. However, although it is giving us direction and instruction, many starts well, and then they start chasing other things, with the ideology that they can always pick-up where they left off. However, scripture tells us that there is a time and season for everything, and we see in this film that there is such a thing as being “too late”. Hebrews 3:15 states, “Today, if you will hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion”. We must be quick to heed to the message of the Lord that gives us instruction and direction. The heart of obedience is what safeguards us from utter failure.  Nevertheless, even when we falter, the Lord is merciful in the face of disappointment.

Ironically, the same woman who faced disappointment in the previous scene reappears in the last scene with the man who has killed himself. She is wearing black along with 2 others. The entire scene denotes an overall feeling of grief and sadness for everyone involved in the scene, which provokes the last question that we all have asked God before: “Why?” Standing, the lady from the previous scene is participating in what can be deemed the burial (although symbolically performed) of the man. It is interesting to see the nuances between a person who is overcome with disappointment, and a person who feels sadness, but is nevertheless standing to “bury” the former. Despite the solemn tone of this scene, there is a silver lining in the victory of the one who can stand and be strong enough to overcome the challenge and be present for another who has now started to grieve (the bride). The man who attempted to attain a life of greatness on his own is lying on the cold ground by himself, whereas the woman who is still standing, is accompanied by 2 other people, perhaps denoting a multiplied level of strength. However, as the three women walk away, the bride is left with unanswered questions, as it is with our daily lives.


The question “why” may never leave her lips as she bids farewell to the departed. This is where the trust in God comes in. If you trust that His plans are better than your own, then you also have to trust in the hard times that He is still leading you down the best path for your life. You will have gains and losses in this life, and what determines your victory is if you are doing life with Jesus or not. He makes the difference. Without Him, the bride could very well end up in a vicious cycle and end up with a similar fate like the man. Yet, thanks be unto God for preserving us and giving us the promise that He will never leave nor forsake His own (Deuteronomy 31:8 NKJV). In the times when we are asking God “why did this happen?” He may not always give the answers, but He has promised to hold our hand through it all (Isaiah 41:13 NKJV). We see the difference between a man who attempted to do everything by his own efforts (the tragic result of death) and the woman who is courageously facing her own disappointment. Life is governed by times and seasons. “Aporia” is a life lesson to us all to walk in the guiding light of God, and He will direct us in the path of life fulfillment.