Two titans of the avant garde cine-dirge bring us a new kind of reservedly ecstatic descent into psychospiritual hinterlands. Having watched films by both, I have often noticed a kinship w/ the Werner Herzog who most consistently finds himself approaching fuzzy horizons where documentary and fiction melt together. I feel like Fata Morgana, especially, is a big influence for both Russell and Rivers. A real trip.
Where the first part is quite interesting and reminded me of the work done by Marker on Sunless, its appeal quickly and drastically diminishes once the film leaves the commune setting to focus on the meandering of its character. At this point, and for the remaining two thirds, the film does offer some beautiful and often compelling images but its tone feels incredibly forced and its message suffers in the process.
Ethno-trance film from co-directors Russell and Rivers that follows Robert A.A. Lowe through three very different ways of living in Estonia, Finland and Norway. Communal living; solitary foraging; and playing in a death metal band! Rewarding for some, deathly dull for others.
Could not get through this. The first part with the naked hippies was alright. Then the guy is in his little canoe for like 10 minutes. Oh we also watch him read a book. Then we look at some ants. More boat. Now he's hiking. Now let's stare at some plants for a while. Now he plays in a band. Kill me. Seriously.
4 stars, but the damned synopsis is so misleading that it's demoted to 3 stars. "Golden Hour", "northern lights", "pagan reenactors", "failed communes", "arctic hermits", all missing from the film, or at least I never saw them. The description makes the film sound like a pilgrimage to find a spell, a journey through all these places and more, but a good hour in and you're still lingering around the commune.
It still stands in my top 10 films of all time. Transcendent work, and a masterful collaboration between two of the most interesting auteurs in film today. From the outset in which is most likely my favourite scene in narrative cinema, the shimmering reflections as night becomes, to the beautiful solitude and landscapes, to the lingering camera and beautifully captured BM gig and the faces of the crowd. An experience
I'm unconvinced by the communal living/loneliness in the woods/catharsis through music trifecta. And while it's comparatively easy to make majestic nature look good on screen, the rather pedestrian camera work in the first and last sequences really put the lack of meaningful happenstance front and center. Kind of a chore to get through but a noble failure nonetheless.
Some reviewers have called this an ode to black metal, its trace-link purging and howls of innate pain. This film is much more -- an elemental, innate rejection of the darkness of life's boundaries for the wide screen of nature and the peace found when those trappings are removed. Thee long shots of forests and the awakenings of the spirit world set this apart; the avant garde directors are also rejecting convention.