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Must Read After My Death
dir. Morgan Dews / USA 2007 / 74’
subtitles: Polish and English
Documentaries / essays

Film description

Even as a child, Morgan Dews loved watching hundreds of amateur films shot by his grandparents. After his grandmother's death, he found a peculiar annex to these idyllic images - tons of records and notes. The married couple recorded sound messages and sent them to each other. Difficulties grew, so this nice habit was soon changed into a recommendation given by the family's psychotherapists.

This film is a portrait of a family during the 50s and 60s. We can see birthdays, garden parties, the first steps of the couple's four children. We can hear various arguments, growing frustration, painful confessions. The film doesn't have any director's commentary. But it would be difficult to find a more thorough analysis of stereotypes of gender, condition of family as an institution, traditional female and male roles.

Morgan Dews appreciates the most those films in which he is unsure whether the narrator can be entirely trusted. Must Read After My Death may evoke such feelings, too. Allis with her obsession of analysing and recording is somewhat similar to the mad mapmakers of a short story by Borges who strived so much to make the most precise map possible that they covered the entire empire with it. When watching Dews's film, the spectator may be bothered by one question. What would have happened, had Allis ceased striving to make the map of her family relations even more perfect and just started going forward?

Anna Lechowicz

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