Saturday, September 04, 2010

A lake of fire awaiting the final sunset

Sight and Sound's October 'Film of the Month' is Sarah Turner's Perestroika, 'a journey into both the snowy wastes of Siberia and the fractured mind of its grieving narrator'.  Chris Darke's review makes a connection with the recent resurgence in British nature writing, wondering if similar trends in film will be equally germane to our environmental fears: 'The 'landscape film' is a hardy sub-genre of British experimental cinema, from Chris Welsby's elemental 1970s nature studies, via Derek Jarman's The Garden (1990) - a record of his own little acre in the shadow of Dungeness nuclear power station - to the contemporary work of Peter Todd and Emily Richardson.  In her remarkable film Perestroika, the British artist-film-maker Sarah Turner reinvents the genre for the present day: the 'landscape film' under the sign of extinction.'

I have not yet seen the film but have been reading about it at Catherine Grant's filmanalytical and the links provided there. The director sees her film explicitly as 'an environmental allegory. Hot and cold represent the relationship between inside and outside. Inside the train is boiling because of the heaters and thick glass but you’re passing through a freezing landscape. In the developed world we sit in our overheated units while outside our planet heats up. The change is evident in the landscape itself. There are great swathes without snow and they’re harvesting wheat, in December, in Siberia.' What Chris Darke describes as the film's 'extreme psychogeography' culminates in the narrator's vision of Baikal, the deepest lake in the world 'and the zero-point of Siberia's status as a weathervane of global warning, landscape and mind', as 'a lake of fire awaiting the final sunset'.

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