Cache Girl Saves the World is a pioneering experiment in film and literature produced by author Adam E. Stone and musician and storyteller Thirza Defoe. This project explores an innovative new approach to storytelling, combining audio of the novel’s text with music and still photographs of the story’s action to create a “novel in visions.” The images, words, and songs of this visual novel tell the tale of Ta’li, a young woman on a physical and spiritual journey in search of healing for herself and a way to awaken empathy in the hearts of her fellow humans.
If someone picks up this DVD expecting it to be a conventional film, they may initially find themselves disappointed. There are no moving pictures here, only still photographs combined with the voices of several characters and the music and background audio of the story. There’s also none of the hectic rush through an action-packed plot that the average American viewer may expect from a mainstream film. But a viewer who enjoys the nuances of character development and is patient enough to let the plot unfold at its own pace will be greatly rewarded for their effort.
In terms of the experiment in medium that the producers are exploring, Cache Girl Saves the World is by and large a resounding success. The images chosen serve to compliment and expand upon the character dialog and narrative of the story, enhancing the literary content with visual beauty while not distracting from the audio. As someone who has lived in Southern Illinois for over a decade, I found this combination of audio commentary and still photography to be especially effective when used to reveal the majesty and history of the Cache River and Southern Illinois at large. The text was poetic, and the photographs were stunning â€” but when combined, they expressed the beauty of the land far better than either could have done separately. Much like a graphic novel, this “novel in visions” format allows for a synergy between the literary and visual arts that is rarely captured in other media, including film.
The story told through this medium is equally compelling. Again, if the viewer picks up this DVD expecting a conventional tale, they may find themselves disappointed. The narrative of Cache Girl Saves the World focuses heavily on a combination of gradual character development, an examination of indigenous and imperial culture, and an exploration of spiritual themes such as empathy, empowerment, individual versus community interests, and learning to live in harmony with each other and the land. This is no simple Hollywood tale, and some viewers may not be ready or willing to explore such philosophical topics, especially without the dazzle of Hollywood special effects to keep them occupied. But anyone who appreciates a good book, or a good campfire tale about a vision quest and nature spirits and real people trying to find their way in an unreal world, will be delighted to set aside Hollywood’s conventions for a while and walk with Ta’li through the swamps and woods and prairies of Southern Illinois and beyond.
As with any production, there were a few minor shortcomings. At a few points toward the middle and end, there were a few images that were repeated more often than they needed to be. Sometimes, the repetition added visual continuity, artfully marking a return to a previous plot thread or emphasizing a recurring theme of the narrative. At a few points, however, it seemed like this thematic emphasis may have been better served by a new image rather than repetition of an old one.
On the whole, however, I would describe Cache Girl Saves the World as a resounding success, both in terms of its pioneering exploration of a new medium and in terms of the creativity, relevance, and dramatic appeal of the literary narrative. It drew me in from the very first few moments of dialog, narrative, and imagery, and it kept me involved in the story and concepts right up to the conclusion â€” and beyond.
This experimental “novel in visions” is well worth experience. I’m confident that anyone who gives it a chance will find it compelling, thought-provoking, entertaining, and perhaps even inspiring in their own journey of self-healing and healing of humanity.