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Sundance: The Blazing World

Loosely inspired by  Margaret Cavendish’s novel, The Blazing World examines the long-term effects of trauma through a psychedelic lens. Margaret (Carlson Young), her mother Alice (Vinessa Shaw) and father Tom (Dermot Mulroney), are haunted by the early death of Margaret’s twin sister Elizabeth. Each deals with the trauma in their own self-destructive way. Margaret is suicidal and enters a dark place in her mind where she is followed by a mysterious man, Lained (Udo Kier), who lures her into an alternate world, a visualization of her trauma, where she must face multiple challenges in order to survive.

The Blazing World is an impressive directorial debut by actress Carlson Young who stars in the film and co-wrote the script with Pierce Brown. It’s a visual masterpiece and even if you are not sure what’s going on in the plot you’ll be dazzled by the intense and colorful imagery. The set design, color schemes and costumes are pure eye candy.  I particularly enjoyed Udo Kier’s performance as the creepy Lained. 

Some have criticized the film because how it approaches female trauma and its many film references. Trauma is unique to each individual and will not fill a mold based off of societal expectations. Also I really loved how this film seemed to be inspired by cinema. According to Young the film is heavily inspired by German Horror. I found references to Fritz Lang’s Destiny which really piqued my interest.


The Blazing World premiered at the virtual 2021 Sundance Film Festival as part of their Next series.

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