After watching three Kossakovsky features, I love when he applies grand visual ideas to ordinary topics, so it’s disappointing that this one looks like an unrestored Sokurov video in brownscale SD.
Enjoyed the two minutes of hedgehog-related drama, not the half hour of a family arguing at the dinner table. Nice pre-Gunda spotlight on farm animals, some sweet long takes, some good rants. A Tarr-worthy final shot justifies the effort – the wife listens to tapes, laughing, crying, then dancing, the camera getting up and dancing with her, her belligerent brother passed out in a corner of the room having fallen on his head from the table.
“Abracadabra. Potatoes, dig yourselves up!”
Hedgehog being protected from very upset dog:
Cows, pigs, roosters in three farms in different countries. Terrific high-framerate steadicam, long takes, great lighting in their custom-built sty. I wondered how much of that was natural light, and remembered reading about the house in Turin Horse, which turned out an apt comparison, per the British Cinematographer article I read.
– baby pigs are born
– chickens interlude
– pigs growing up
– cows interlude
– pigs taken away from momma pig
And it’s almost a perfect movie, but for the cows, who do nothing except swat away flies (or more often, failing to swat away flies). You just can’t make cows interesting, though apparently Andrea Arnold will be the next to attempt it.
Water and ice, beautiful and frightening on the big screen.
Sometimes you lose all sense of scale until you see birds flying off the icebergs.
Metal soundtrack… egrets in a flooded cemetery.
Nice sailing scenes – so much winching! I want to show this to dad, but I know he’ll fall asleep long before the sailing begins.
Dedicated to Sokurov.
Maybe I’m just in a mood, but this seems like one of the greatest documentaries ever. In filming eight locations (four sets of antipodes – places on land directly opposite the globe from each other), much fun is had with lenses and camera orientation. The music and sound design is terrific as well as the cinematography, and the movie’s gimmick and structure aside, he is filming absolute magic and wonder. In fact, the antipode concept is only mentioned in some opening titles, and from there it’s just observation of the chosen locations, left to viewer’s imagination and his excellent visual transitions between locales to draw geographic connections.
Won an award at the 2012 True/False Fest. We hope to attend next year, so we’re catching up on some docs we missed.
I looked up a little about Kossakovsky. He teaches a documentary class – among the rules he presents to students:
– Don’t film if you can live without filming.
– Don’t film if you want to say something – just say it or write it. Film only if you want to show something, or you want people to see something. This concerns both the film as a whole and every single shot within the film.
– Don’t film something you just hate. Don’t film something you just love. Film when you aren’t sure if you hate it or love it. Doubts are crucial for making art. Film when you hate and love at the same time.
– You need your brain both before and after filming, but don’t use your brain during filming. Just film using your instinct and intuition.
– Story is important for documentary, but perception is even more important. Think, first, what the viewers will feel while seeing your shots. Then, form a dramatic structure of your film using the changes to their feelings.
– Documentary is the only art where every esthetical element almost always has ethical aspects and every ethical aspect can be used esthetically. Try to remain human, especially whilst editing your films. Maybe, nice people should not make documentaries.