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449 Ratings



Directed by Peter Nestler
West Germany, 1963
Documentary, Short


A cheerful take on the lives of school children in a Swiss rural environment. Young pupils recite short essays they have written on subjects ranging from the long walk to school, the distribution of milk during breaks, and to a brawl in the courtyard.

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Essays Directed by Peter Nestler

What are people saying?

  • Dogville59's rating of the film Essays

    I found this very touching being Swiss but having left when I was 3. I always wonder what life would have been like there and this short documentary give a glimpse. It is well done with the images portraying what the children say in their essays. It is interesting to see what matters to them in this rural snowy mountainous land.

  • EdieEmm's rating of the film Essays

    Charming, eg “die Lehrerin”, or Nils who had 'frights' on the way to Lapland. But perceptibly uncanny: Children’s voices, & their child’s perspectives of the world, represented through this distinctly adult lens. Something sombre & reflective; already nostalgic when it was made (& Nestler’s ‘kids’, by now maybe w/ grandkids that age…) Subtly, hauntingly distanced with space for winds to howl between image & word. 3.5

  • Karthik's rating of the film Essays

    The dynamic between the voices-deadpan children's reading their essays (Aufsätze)-& the images that alternate between isolated human figures in vast fields of snow & intimate warm interiors (mainly in closeup) is very moving. The synopsis is wrong: they *are* speaking in Hochdeutsch (but w/ a Swiss accent) + reading it purely as a cheerful take displays a blind eye to much in the images & their relation to the sound

  • paul_quixote's rating of the film Essays

    I don't mind subtitles but I think I would've liked this better if I spoke the language of the film. The emotional resonance of the children's voices would've likely been much more palpable. The visual material didn't do much for me. Would love to read this as a short book, there's definitely a poetry to it.

  • Monkey Flix's rating of the film Essays

    So in 1960s Switzerland, fourth graders are allowed to light a fire unsupervised. In 21st century America, fourth graders aren't even allowed outside the house unsupervised.

  • fearraigh's rating of the film Essays

    An interesting take on school days in a small Swiss village. It's a smart idea to hand over the narration to the kids themselves, who have an incantatory quality to their stilted speech. It's reminiscent of The Langley Schools Project in its roughly hewn, unschooled eloquence.

  • Slappy McGee's rating of the film Essays

    Guess this is not my thing. Experimental, I suppose. Various kids narrate essays about life and general things. Black and white images play underneath. I, personally, didn't find any great meaning or connection here.

  • Arianna's rating of the film Essays

    Love the delicate way in which he depicts reality through video portraits as well as the steadiness of the children's voices and tones that together with the photography are able to transmit the sense of isolation and repetitiveness of this corner of the world.

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