Film run-time: 12 minutes | Starring Rick Gadde, Maria Melnik, Frank Reid
Directed by Angie Bird, Produced by Michelle Woodward, Cinematography by Viktor Cahoj
“You Won’t Regret That Tattoo“, a 2013 short film by Angie Bird, is a wistful collection of anecdotes that examines several individuals’ rationale for their inking of tattoos, as permanent reminders of pivotal events in their lives. Throughout this discussion, the interviewees talk about the trenchant significance of these indelible symbols, and the inherent social stigma that comes with them.
Most often utilized to chronicle life-altering events in people’s lives, Bird’s film explores the psychological weight of these emblems, etched onto the skin of these individuals who have experienced major upheavals: the death of a spouse, the birth of a son, survival of an illness, or prison (in the latter, a tattoo removed as a result of.) Equally examined are tattoos of a more transient whimsy, in modes of drunkenness or impulse, that are no less documentary of lives lived, of youth consumed.
In spite of their potency as affirmations of the human condition, this specific choice of expression, though beloved by the film’s subjects, often divides them into one category of a binary distinction—those with a tattoo, and those without. Although personally empowering as annals of life history, there is a social disapproval that characterizes each wearer into a homologous coterie, that can reduce chosen designs from their frequently intimate motives.
Whether it is the permanence of tattoos or their cultural association with certain personalities or professions, the onus of clarification seems to rest with those whose intents do not align with the popular concept of tattoos’ significance. Yet, as the film has readily demonstrated, these stories are not for the pleasure of the casual observer, but rather the compassion of a patient, impartial beholder. The infinite power of this body art is a private affair, and it is only skin-deep when left unmeditated on.