Mind-blow­ing im­ages, lazy film­mak­ing

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - ENTERTAINMENT - By Ran­dall King

T’S like watch­ing a very slow movie.”

The com­ment comes from a res­i­dent of a vol­canic Hawai­ian is­land that is slowly, slowly, slowly hav­ing its pris­tine forests cov­ered with vol­canic rock over a pe­riod of decades.

The ob­ser­va­tion could ap­ply equally to the trippy, con­tem­pla­tive film­mak­ing style of Cana­dian doc­u­men­tar­ian Peter Met­tler, whose pre­vi­ous films in­clude Gam­bling, Gods and LSD and Pic­ture of Light, the lat­ter a study of the north­ern lights shot in Churchill.

The End of Time of­fers up its the­sis in the ti­tle, which does not re­fer to the tem­po­ral end­point oft ref­er­enced in love songs, but a re­con­sid­er­a­tion of time as an il­lu­sory, man-made con­struct.

It starts lit­er­ally with a jump­ing-off point 31 kilo­me­tres above the sur­face of the earth. That is where proto-as­tro­naut/air force colonel Joseph Kit­tinger jumped from a helium bal­loon in 1960, an event cap­tured in old but dizzy­ing film footage. In the midst of that as­ton­ish­ing plunge, Kit­tinger ob­served, in the ab­sence of any of the usual ref­er­ence points of the phys­i­cal world, time seemed to stand still.

Met­tler fur­ther ex­plores per­cep­tions of time but in a desul­tory, im­pres­sion­is­tic jour­ney that takes him to the famed par­ti­cle ac­cel­er­a­tor in Cern, Switzer­land, the de­cay­ing city of Detroit, that afore­men­tioned Hawai­ian is­land where Met­tler in­dulges in lov­ingly-lensed lava porn. Met­tler trains his cam­eras on sen­su­ously bul­bous rock for­ma­tions for such ex­tended pe­ri­ods of time, they start to re­sem­ble a pile of pros­trate bod­ies... an orgy of the dead.

Of­ten, The End of Time qual­i­fies as a very beau­ti­ful film. Met­tler has a knack for wring­ing vis­ual beauty from the most un­ex­pected places... even Detroit.

One wishes Met­tler de­voted more at­ten­tion to some kind of nar­ra­tive co­her­ence and less at­ten­tion to as­sem­bling a se­ries of im­ages cal­cu­lated merely to blow view­ers’ minds.

It comes off as lazy film­mak­ing, at least to a guy whose no­tion of time is trag­i­cally chained to the re­al­ity of dead­lines.


A strik­ing night­time im­age from Hawaii in The End of Time.

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