The Onyx Project

Today I watched The Onyx Project interactive DVD film. It was written and directed by Larry Atlas and stars David Strathairn, who recently played Edward Murrow in Good Night and Good Luck.

The plot, if the DVD has one, involves Strathairn’s character, Col. Robert Henderson, a former special ops commander who fought in the Gulf War and Afghanistan and was involved in intelligence gathering.

One complaint about the special NAV software that the filmmakers developed for this project: it does not allow you to follow whatever links you would like. You may only click on a highlighted link when the appropriate context comes up in the dialogue. Sure, you can always click on the “&” link, which pauses playback and sends the viewer to a kind of hiatus screen. There, the viewer may choose from “threads” or a few random links.

The threads are numbered and from what I’ve seen contain so few scenes that the quickly begin to repeat. I suppose in a hypertexual (hypervisual?) environment, repetition is allowed, but it seems too much.

So far, I have come across one mention of the word “Onyx,” which felt like finding a secret treasure. What is the Onyx Project, and what does it have to do with the documentary footage of George W. Bush, the Gulf War, and 9/11? I don’t know yet, but I hope to find out.

A word on the shuffle feature of the DVD too: it repeats scenes far too quickly as well. With an advertised 400+ scenes, the shuffle feature probably should work better than my iPod’s one does (which manages to repeat songs even with 4,000 to choose from).

More comments to come after I’ve finished this particular hypertextual journey…


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