I was introduced to the love poetry of John Donne at high school and suddenly my literature class became a lot more interesting…suddenly his words made ‘one little room an everywhere’. I was able to channel my awakening teenage sexuality into becoming a metaphor sleuth, eagerly stripping away the layers of his work to discover hidden meanings. I found his observations of lovers and loving so beautiful, and The Good Morrow became one of my favourite poems.

 

John Donne’s honest exploration of life, love, sex, death - la petite mort, fascinates me. When I recently read The Expiration, I was captivated. There is nothing more charged than a ‘…last lamenting kisse,..’ nothing more precious than a love, ‘…which sucks two soules, and vapors both away.’ It was the sobering line “Turn thou ghost that one, and let me turn this,” that instantly brought an image of a couple that can no longer love one another, awkwardly lying close, sharing a bed, knowing they can no longer be connected. An overhead wide shot of a couple turning away from each other, lying back to back became imprinted in my mind,..from this, my ambition to bring it to the screen grew...

 

Originally I thought we’d shoot in an enclosed environment, inside a bedroom or a beach hut but as my vision for the piece developed, the poem’s earthiness, its grittiness demanded it be located outside. The title and the poem itself made me think of 'lifeforce,' or 'chi', which literally means breath, air, or gas. And as trees give us the oxygen that we cannot live without, I wanted to set it in the woods.


I wanted to capture the metamorphosis of a couple's intoxicating sexual euphoria into a clear-headed, post-coital reality: Despite their passionate love, their relationship just cannot be. For me, The Expiration is not about a love that has just fizzled out. There is too much full-blooded passion, anger and too much raw pain. The act of passion creates life itself, and yet this is a love that has to be killed off. This led me to interpret the poem in the way I have. I hope to evoke the emotional effect this poem has on me, and to honour the wonder of loving and the bittersweet joy and pain it can bring.

 

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