Runelight is about the permanent impact that loss can have on our lives, and a reflection on how it can feel as though our world is literally changing around us.
The dark cave of depression is a difficult place to leave, particularly for those coping with loss. This is the case for our main character in Runelight, a vulnerable forest creature who reluctantly follows the glowing lights leading her onwards out of the darkness.
Day and night are used to express the character’s emotional state. We see her at the beginning playing with her child, in a happy moment during the day time. We are then abruptly transported to her night time state, where she is in grief. She has moved, not only to night time, but to the darkest place she can find, the cave. Here she is able to live away from any light. Suddenly, when the light finds her, she is forced to finally leave her cave.
We then travel with the character through the forest as she follows the lights and the blue butterfly. Arriving at a bioluminescent clearing, she realises this was her destination when a portal reveals itself. Unfortunately, the path onward from grief is never easy. She is pushed back as the forest starts to self-destruct. Does she flee, or carry on? In a moment of weakness, she turns to run. However she is then forced to confront her memories more directly.
In her memory space, we discover the love that she has lost: her child. The significance of the butterfly we see in her night time state is also revealed.
As our main character watches her memory-self lose her child again, she goes to help, but is abruptly transported back to her night time state. She realises that she cannot fix the past and, painfully, must accept that. After hesitating, she decides to face the struggle, push through the obstacles, fight. With effort, she reaches the portal and is transported back to day time.
While calmer, day time is sadly not what it used to be for our main character. In the end, she disappears in a twinkling of blue light, much like her child. Nevertheless, her efforts to move forward cannot be undervalued.
Directed by Matt O’Donnell (UK)