Michael Pilz’s epic two-part documentary tells of life in a mountain village in the Austrian state of Styria.
“Give it a chance and this film will soon draw you into its own cosmos; it can be counted among those works that teach you to see and hear things in a completely new way.” (Ulrich Gregor, Forum 1983)
“Take what is before you as it is and do not wish it to be different, simply exist.” This motto from the Chinese poet Lao-tzu precedes the film and is programmatic for Michael Pilz’s open concept, devoid as it is of a sociological motive. His almost five-hour-long cinematic essay was a milestone in the making of independent documentary films. And even today it is still extraordinary owing to its aesthetic waywardness and its free form – a mixture of compassionate observation, the self-reflective disclosure of the filmmaker’s presence and procedures, the contrapuntal use of sound and comments in the form of off-screen texts from sources as far-ranging as Lao-tzu to the Bible to Stanislaw Lem. The film shows the process of plowing on steep slopes as a concerted effort by man and beast. Pilz asks a farmer where he would prefer to stand for a shot. Himmel und Erde is both a historic document and modern cinema at the same time. –Berlinale
I was born in 1943, just a stone’s throw away from the „iron curtain“ which separated Austria and Czechoslovakia in those days. I grew up amidst the rolling Waldviertel hills with their fields and patches of trees, rivers, and woods.
The countryside has a slow-motion way of rolling away to the horizon. It instills a feeling for the dignity, weight, and inertia of the primary rock formation you are standing on. Rest your gaze on these bedrock hills, and you will begin to move along to the soft, smooth, measured flow of these meadows and woodlands.
There was Catholicism, Gregorian chants, Soviet news-reel propaganda films. Listening to the radio and browsing through bookstores, I came across a different life in far away places, which was based on a different rhythm.
In 1954, I began taking photographs, working with 8 mm film. In 1956, finally, I packed my bags and headed for Vienna, a city closer to the world of Thelonious Monk, Miles Davis, Albert Camus, Samuel Beckett… read more
"Nourish virtue in yourself and it will be sincere. Nourish it in the village and it will grow. Nourish it in the world and it will abound." - "Those who heed the Being are rulers of old, and those who heed the Not Being are friends of heaven and earth. He who knows does not talk, he who talks does not know."
Took me some time to get into it, but after a while i was starting to enjoy every minute of it, more and more. The simple and yet hard life of some austrian farmers living in the mountains is becoming the initial point of this journey. The Viewer is becoming witness of an authenticy which i am not able to see in my own daily hustle. Thank U very much for this great movie, and his inspiring thoughts ...
A meditation on time, a man, a nature, and life. Also very philosophical film from the man who has a clear vision on what he's doing. i wish i was more articulative to explain this, for now i just quote ulrich gregor "Give it a chance and this film will soon draw you into its own cosmos; it can be counted among those works that teach you to see and hear things in a completely new way.”