Self-described as “part documentary, part road-movie”, Treasure Trapped sets out to dissect the increasingly popular world of Live Action Role Play (LARP) from its conception, to its cult-status in the UK, and its fascinatingly immersive existence in Scandinavia.
A fairly shaky opening, in which our presenters/film crew attend an initial LARP event, and leave as confused as they were before they went, sets out to be a little too self-aware and sneery. Thankfully, the film turns into just the opposite, as the past time - an easy target of mockery for most media outlets - is treated with a respect and genuine curiosity that leads the film into some of the more idiosyncratic LARP peccadilloes, at once both breaking and reinforcing the stereotype that has been built up over the course of its history.
Whilst travelling around the various British events, the film explores some of the more unknown aspects of LARP - including suicide bombers. It also presents an interesting account of the hobby’s heritage, as well as both the key role and ongoing good reputation that Britain’s LARP community has.
The second half almost feels like a different film, as the focus is shifted to the more intense, widespread LARP community on Scandinavia. Although in the same world as Britain’s LARPers, it feels like an entirely different practice, and is utterly fascinating.
The film’s strength lies in its ability to humanize its subjects in an arena where mockery would be all too easy. It draws a key distinction between escapism through enjoyment and escapism through self-hatred, which helps invert the common belief that LARP participants are socially inept. If anything, it proves that the opposite is true. Anyone that can confidently dress as a wizard and meet with two-hundred strangers in a public setting, is probably less socially awkward than the majority of non-LARPers.
For its budget and size,Treasure Trapped is an impressive, although not entirely without fault, film that offers a glimpse inside of the immersive, often weird, but always fascinating world of LARP.
Treasure Trapped will be showing at Savoy Cinema, Lenton on Tuesday 24 March 2015 at 8pm.
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