The point of departure for Grant Gee’s latest film, after his award-winning documentary Joy Division, is W.G. Sebald’s book The Rings of Saturn, a description of the latter’s long hiking tour of East Anglia. The film follows Sebald’s route, but as is the case in the book, the landscape and the places the author visited occasion contemplations.
Some twenty writers, artists and other creative minds. including authors Rick Moody and Iain Sinclair, theatre director Katie Michell and artists Tacita Dean and Lise Patt, explain Sebald’s impact on their work. They also provide their interpretations of the book which, besides recording a walk, is also a sightseeing tour of the horrors of the twentieth century.
The commentaries, the excerpts read by Jonathan Pryce and fragments of interviews with the German writer – who died in 2001 – create an impression of an original thinker who managed to shape his fascination with and fear of catastrophes in an exceptional manner. –IFFR
Grant Gee is a film director and cinematographer currently living in Brighton. He was born in Plymouth and studied Geography at St Catherine’s College, Oxford and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
He is most noted for his documentary about the British alternative rock group Radiohead, Meeting People Is Easy (1999), which followed the band on their tour for their highly acclaimed third album, OK Computer (1997).
In the early 1990s he had worked on U2’s Zoo TV and Zoo Radio, and collaborated with Mark Neale on several projects (many through London production company Kudos Productions), including “The Memory Palace”, an experimental multi-media project combining film and live performance for the Expo ’92.
In 1996 he directed a twenty-seven minute short film commissioned by progressive house band Spooky for parts of their album “Found Sound” (namely the tracks “Central Heating”, “Bamboo”, “Aphonia”, “Lowest Common Denominator”, “Hypo-Allergenic”/“Interim”… read more
An interesting attempt to mix the bio-documentary and the essay film. Some moments very reminiscent of Sans Soleil. There's a bit of a conflict between the straight documentary and the more discursive essay film that is never resolved for me in a fully satisfying manner. As interesting as the bio part of the film is, a more pure essay type film of just Sebald's words and Gee's images would have been exciting to see.
A fascinating look into place and space as prescribed by German author W.G Sebald. The structure of his writing draws parallels with the documentary work of Chris Marker. Seemingly unrelated vignettes, facts and observations come together to form a portrait of humanity that seems impossible to have arrived at in any normal linear manner. 4 stars
Poetic (and aptly named) documentary retraces the steps of W.G. Sebald's book, "The Rings of Saturn," evoking his meandering style in its appreciation of the landscapes and people of rural Europe. Beautifully shot in the grainy black and white style of Sebald's favored photographs, the film is an impressionist appreciation that eschews conventional film structure in lieu of feelings and textures.