After reading the script I was drawn to the juxtaposition of a female figure in the harsh environment of the Badlands. This strong, vivacious women in this barren, dead land created a great contrast. She simultaneously belongs there and doesn't belong there (much like the Native American vs "white man" conflict alluded to in the script). The silhouette of the female figure was taken from a dressmaker model, which provided the typical female curves. It's a fitting irony using this stereotypical, almost sexist, "woman" form. Using these female curves as a window to the Badlands shows the link Bertha has with the land. On one hand it's crumbling (perhaps under the stress of the passing of her husband) and on the other hand it's this bright blue sky (perhaps the triumph of her journey). The circling vultures are from the script as well, revealing Bertha and her husbands presence in the Badlands. Black vultures are a pretty standard image, so I switched them to white to play with the connotations of life and death. The Badlands being on the bottom half of the figure, over the abdomen, also play with the subtext of Bertha being unable to conceive and "barren".
Director’s Note on GRIEF:
This is a story about desire… an insatiable desire to fulfill a promise and preserve a memory. Writing the story of Bertha Constantine was grief therapy after my mother’s death from a sudden heart attack. The story organically grew from me to explore the insanity of grief, how it makes the illogical seem logical; that ‘get out of my way, I’m grieving, you don’t understand’ feeling. If you’ve ever felt that, this is the movie for you. I’m trying to expose deeply personal feelings for everyone to see, and in turn, help others other grievers to ‘vomit’ those feelings. It really helps put everything into perspective. But this story has no answers. It only offers a particular experience…to let go without ever losing sight of the strength and goodness that the deceased have left behind for us to digest. The dead...are pretty generous when you think about it.
Director’s Note on SOUTH DAKOTA:
“Bertha Constantine” is my love letter to South Dakota. I moved to Boston and within one month, I felt suffocated by the streets and the buildings and the people. I missed wide-open spaces and a smile for a smile’s sake. My hope is that when someone asks me what South Dakota is like, I can toss them a DVD copy of “Bertha Constantine” and say: “This is South Dakota”. And they will understand.