Calendar (1993) by Atom Egoyan, is an experimental film that deals with the concept of time, space and memory. The main plot is about a Canadian photographer who lost his wife’s love to an Armenian driver while he was in Armenia shooting churches for a calendar. What makes this film experimental is that it reveals the plot rather slowly (the future investigation of the past) and does not follow conventional method of story telling (defies sequential logic of story telling with parallel but different time lines).
The film, instead, employed a calendar as the backbone of the film. It starts off with still shots of each months on the calendar. During each still shot of the month, the film flashes back into the memory of the time when the photographer was shooting a particular Armenian church shown on the calendar. Followed by video footages from the wife’s camcorder from the same time. And then consequently snaps back to the present day showing the photographer dating several women over the course of the year. Interestingly, the flashbacks, old footages and the present day are presented via a parallel one by one sequence on screen. So, it is essentially a presentation of two time frames in a single space.
Toward the end, it is revealed that the flash back of the memories in Armenia with the photographer’s wife was, in fact, the film trying to make sense of what went wrong in the photographer’s relationship in the past while he is actively pursuing a new one during present day. This occurrence, the situation of being here but wants to be there, is perhaps best summed up with a poem by Margaret Atwood: “A person who is “here” but would rather be somewhere else is an exile or a prisoner; a person who is “here” but thinks he is somewhere else is insane.” This proves that the photographer is still a prisoner of his past love.
Finally, the photographer successfully found a women which “clicks” with him on the final months of the calendar year. At the same time, the film also completed the trace back of the photographer’s past relationship. At this point, the burden is unloaded, the investigation of the past is over and the problem of companionship is solved.
All in all, this film proved itself largely comprehensible and still remained experimental with its non-conventional methods. Comparing it with the similarly themed Sans Soleil by Chris Marker, both films exploited the power of imagery as a tool of expressing memories, only that the Calendar exploited both still and moving images. However, the Calendar by Atom Egoyan comes much more closer toward mainstream compatibility with its more relevant romantic settings.