A woman with brain cancer (Margarethe von Stern…who also co-wrote the feature) enters a surreal version of the Egyptian underworld (this time comprised of bucolic fields, swamps, and gaudy rooms and industrial settings). She soon becomes obsessed with the mummification of deceased animals (at times overseen by a frog…could this be a manifestation of the fertility goddess Heqet? Not a stretch when you hear what happens to our terminal heroine next…) before being mummified herself by the god Anubis (this time represented by a man, naked from the waste down and adorned with a fetishistic mask that roughly resembles a canine countenance). Before long our protagonist encounters multiple versions of herself (or so they seem) as she attempts to reconcile her mortality and sense of self.
The Day of the Purple Sun is more of an “experience” than a traditional motion picture. The film is comprised of aesthetics more than a standard narrative, and the end result challenges the viewer to interpret Margarethe’s journey for themselves…and what a journey it is; taxidermy, nudity, mummies, bondage gear, primitive effigies, sumptuous imagery, silent movie expressionism…all collide to dizzying effect to present a fever dream that intertwines metaphysics and the ideals of the ancient world. Along with that, the expressive acting of von Stern, who goes from vulnerable to inquisitive, to empowered…all with equal credibility. Finally the use of “in camera” visual illusions (the type of which were prevalent during the aforementioned days of silent films) adds an air of surrealism that is not able to be achieved via CG trickery…it’s a welcome return to hand crafted film making techniques that never should have fallen out of fashion in my opinion.
On the flip side, The Day of the Purple Sun is definitely not going to be to everyone’s tastes as this is more visual poetry than a regular film. Also, if you have an aversion to (extremely) expired animal remains, or their internal organs this one will be on your must miss list as Director/Actor/Co-Writer Carsten Frank shoots such objects with obsessive reverence…it’s unbelievably grotesque and unbelievably beautiful…which is this film in a nutshell, but if seeing that sort material bothers you, consider yourself well and duly warned.
To sum it up; The Day of the Purple Sun is an off-kilter, metaphysical, nightmare logic filled cinematic mind fuck that could be best described as Clive Barker meets F.W. Murnau by way of Herschell Gordon Lewis!