‘Shadow’

 

The winter sun is always low.

Long angular strips of brilliant yellow squeeze through the gaps in the railings like witch’s fingers, reaching across the playground concrete and tickling the trees.

Boxes of dense shade cast by the school buildings yield to the rhythm of the day’s dying light. Standing inside their squared eclipses, patches of matte blackness that foreshadow a frosty night, produces a shiver in my spine. The trees seem to whisper to the sky.

A shutter on the side of the sports building appears loose, and I climb in after prying open the boards with numb hands. Inside, the air is airless; the day has long drawn its final breath. A reverberation of years of noise has left a lasting impression, carved into the emptiness like Sanskrit; the unruly echo of children’s laughter; the clatter of hockey sticks and squeak of rubber plimsolls against the concrete floor; the metallic clang of locker doors slamming shut.

A sink’s tap emits a rusty creak as I turn it, and I skim my fingertips against the water as it slowly heats. Warmth prickles across my skin as I form my hands into a pallid pail, letting the froths of liquid fill every swirl and lap at the forks of blue veins in my wrists.

In the classrooms, half-finished equations and sentences underlined linger in powdery lettering on the chalk boards. I survey the tarnished wood of each desk, striding between them as if I am the teacher, issuing stern looks, hands on hips.

Breaking the weight of silence, suddenly, is the sound of a door opening. I stand solidly to attention, as frozen as the railings, as quiet as the concrete.

Through the glass pane I peer at a hollow stretch of hallway. My eyes strain large in the dim of the dark.

A beam of light springs from his office, and he exits, standing there with briefcase in hand, a hefty silhouette framed by a rectangle of yellow. Time grinds to a grave halt, and I wait.

And wait. Entire universes are created, amassed and obliterated in the time it takes him to move.

The angles of his face have become deformed by the play of shadows. His eyes are shrouded in black. The light snaps off.

With a raspy cough, he shuts the door and moves away, his small footsteps retreating into the night. When I am sure he is gone, I sprint through lengths of corridors, breathless.

 

By day, I sink into the primary coloured crowd, the mass of children pressed against the gates, the shrieks and whispers and laughter and secrets.

By night, I merge with pools of obscurity, flitting in the empty halls; they are the narrow space between night and day, portals to the protection of darkness.

Nobody sees me.

 


 

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REVIEW: The Lobster

Its jet-black sense of humour and definitively European sensibilities means that the film won’t translate to ‘Hollywood’ audiences, existing in its own surreal bubble of dark moments and blasé shocks. It’s likely to be a love-it-or-hate-it kind of deal for those who venture to see it.


‘The Lobster’ uses cuttingly dark satire and modernist surrealism to probe sharply into an age-old obsession: the search for love. In the film’s bleakly dystopian near-future, single people are arrested and imprisoned in ‘The Hotel’, where they have 45 days to fall in love or be turned into an animal of their choice.

The Hotel is laden with an erratic selection of potential partners, and couples are matched by their ‘defining characteristics’ (today’s dating websites and apps certainly come to mind). Olivia Colman is brilliantly detached as the Hotel’s manager, and Ben Whishaw’s ‘Limping Man’ is easily one of the funniest guests; with comedic timing that is on point, he delivers some of the best lines in the film (his casual ‘this is our new daughter’ induced the biggest laugh from the audience). Colin Farrell, too, is charmingly robotic and effortlessly entertaining as the film’s lead, managing to avoid the trap of bringing too much emotion or bewilderment to the part, instead allowing his character to simply accept his fate and put up little to no resistance, as his dwindling days left as a human are monosyllabically counted away by his alarm clock.

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The futuristic nature of the story is contrasted nicely with the old-fashioned, very British red-carpeted corridors of the hotel setting in which the first half of the story takes place (actually filmed in Kerry, Ireland). Avant-garde camera angles and shadowy, naturalistic lighting make for some lusciously layered cinematography, showed off best in the scenes that take place in the baron, rain-soaked woods which are populated by a poncho-clad band of ‘Loners’ and the wandering camels, pigs and flamingos that didn’t make it.

The rules of the film’s dystopia are seamlessly established and implicated without the need of excessive exposition. This is impressive for a world that is so dense and meandering in its basis and characters’ idiosyncrasies, but we quickly adapt to its rhythm as smoothly as the new visitors to the Hotel do. This is helped by Rachel Weisz’s deadpan narration which leads us nicely into the second half of the film, and although a love story develops, it’s still as wildly unconventional and oddball as the story that precedes it, with Weisz and Farrell communicating through limb-based code and being drawn to each other largely because of their shared short-sightedness. As love between the Loners is strictly forbidden (a rule fiercely enforced by a cool Léa Seydoux and stony Michael Smiley, both excellent), they are forced to disband, leading to a slightly rushed escape to ‘The City’ and a fittingly blunt ending.

What the film says about love, relationships and staying single is open to audience interpretation, although the film is pretty overt in its satire, with the cold, clinical detachment of the forced couplings and brutal savagery of remaining single (the Loners literally have to ‘dig their own graves’) both looking like pretty dire options. If it weren’t for the film’s brilliant, self-aware sense of humour it’s likely that we would exit the screening feeling pretty melancholic, but the balance of wit and cynicism, light and dark, is just right, and in fact I left the screening with a massive smile on my face and a desire to seek out all of writer-director Yorgos Lanthimos’ previous work.

[012] Social Science Interviews: Georg Loefflmann, on the Pentagon vs. Aliens

Social Science Talks Science Fiction

It’s conference season, and we dispatched our one-man-army Matt to interview a series of scholars studying science fiction at the British International Studies Association 2015 conference in London. This time it’s Dr. Georg Loefflmann, on the Pentagon vs. Aliens.

Contributors
Matthew Campbell
Dr. Georg Loefflmann

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‘The Usher’


It’s a hot, muggy summer afternoon, the kind of day where the pollen hangs thick in the air and the sun beats down on the roads, giving the illusion that the tarmac is melting. On days like this, the cinema is always empty. From my post stood at the rear left of the aisles during the matinee screening of City Lights, I can see only one person watching. He’s a regular; a tall, wiry man with bird-like features and a long stare. The Bird Man, I call him. He carries a small canvas bag on his person at all times and usually wears a tan-coloured mac. He gives the impression of always being cold, whatever the temperature. I watch the back of his head for a while, unmoving.

The mugginess of the day has reached in here with unforgiving hands and beads of sweat prickle across my forehead. The cinema doesn’t offer the luxury of air conditioning like the big Multiplex on the outskirts of town. Our single screen seats just 200, the dark red carpets lining the corridors are stained with years of wear, and there’s only one flavour of popcorn served in the lobby.

By the time the film has ended the Bird Man has already left, seemingly evaporating into the chair like ice cream on the pavement. The lights go up. Blinking, and turning my head from side to side to ease the stiffness in my neck, I adjust my uniform and drift down the middle aisle. The Bird Man has left no trace, not even an outline on the seat, and I’m just about to turn and leave when I notice something nestled in between two of the seats on the opposite side to where he sat.

It’s a small box wrapped in brown paper, and what strikes me at first glance is that it has been tucked carefully above the arm rest where the two chairs meet, as if on purpose, as if it is waiting to be found. It’s too conspicuous to have been simply left behind. I look around me. There is no one else here. The whirring of the projector still lingers, but beside that, the theatre is silent. I edge along the seats and approach the package, torch in hand.

Shining dutifully, the torch beam probes at something that the room’s dim lighting didn’t initially pick up: a small label attached to the furthest corner of the box, affixed with brown tape. It’s folded over so I can’t see what it says. Edging forward, and as I reach the chair, I hold out my hand so that my palm and fingertips brush against the side of the box nearest to me. The package feels cold. I crane my neck to see if I can read what the label says but can only make out the letter ‘F’ from between the fold. After taking another quick look around, I fix my eyes back on the label and lift one side of it up carefully.

In large, joined-up letters, the words ‘For Alex’ stare back at me in black ink. I let out a small gasp and the torch slides from under my arm, dropping to the floor with a clatter. I edge back slightly and let the paper fold back over.

Shock gives way to rationality, as I pick up my torch and switch it off with a loud ‘click’. Alex is a common enough name, I reason, it can’t be for me. It must be a birthday present for another Alex, forgotten on the way to the party, a group of people, perhaps.

But my mind wanders. The calculated way it was placed there, on this seat, someone had to know that I would be the one to find it. They knew that the place would be virtually deserted at this time, on this kind of musty summer afternoon. And assuming the package was left here last night, how did no one spot the package when the theatre was emptied?

My thoughts go back to the Bird Man. Did he leave it there for me? Other than a handful of polite formalities, a ripping of tickets, we had never spoken, despite him being a regular customer. His steely eyes always seemed to look straight through me. Is he trying to communicate something?

My eyes wander back over the package. It waits obediently, knowing what is coming next. Bending over it, I enclose my hands around its edges and lift it up to my waist. It’s heavier than I expected; the weight of a small watermelon, maybe. Gripping on to it firmly, I turn and exit the aisle, making my way out through the thick, velvet drapes at the back of the theatre.

There are only two other staff members working today: Amy, a cheerful, red-haired college student who serves popcorn and sells tickets, and Brian, the projectionist, a tall ghost-like creature who seldom leaves his post in the tiny room which houses the cinema’s outdated equipment and dusty film reels.

Neither is around as I hurry through the lobby. I’m so engrossed in my walk and the thorough checking of my surroundings that as I reach the centre, I collide with the life-sized cardboard cutout of Charlie Chaplin which is displayed near the main doors. The Manager, usually sparing with the cinema’s small budget, had splashed out on an ostentatious display to promote the ‘Greats of the Silent Era’ season.

The whole thing collapses onto the red carpet as my feet fall over each other, legs tangled with Chaplin’s cane, which is now bent and pointing awkwardly in the direction of the ceiling. The whole time, my hands remain gripped to the package. I feel a strange connection to it, like when you are drawn to a book in a shop window and simply must go inside to investigate its contents. I regain control of my legs and stand up, leaving the distorted cutout where it lays, the box clutched even tighter to my body.


I’m making a bee-line for the employee lounge, a cramped room on the other side of the ticket booth through a red door marked ‘private’. It contains several grey metal lockers, benches, a broken coffee machine, and a dirty old sink hanging off the wall. Another door leads through to the Manager’s office. He’s seldom here. I go in and shut the door. I can’t lock it from this side, but I grasp the handle and twist it firmly, as if willing it to stay closed.

Sitting down on the bench facing the sink, I place the package carefully at my side and spread my palms across my knees. There is a ‘lost and found’ box behind the ticket booth; it wouldn’t be too late to do the right thing. Maybe my finding should be dropped in there, alongside the musty scraps of old clothing and forgotten articles, and other items unimportant enough for people to leave behind in the cinema; a dog-eared teddy-bear; a child’s single shoe; an empty plastic lunch box.

This package doesn’t belong with them, though. It was meant for me. I steal another glance at it and take a deep breath.

Suddenly I hear something…the heaviness of someone walking, and cursing, through the lobby. They are steps that I have become accustomed to recognizing. I can almost hear his breathing, hot and angered. It can only be the Manager. Quickly, I slip the package into one of the lockers behind me and slam it shut, just as the door handle turns. There he is, hovering in the doorway like a bloated shark, ready to bite.

He’s a short, stocky man, with a bald head and a face that is perpetually red and shiny with old sweat. He must be about forty-five, and wears a stubby tie with a short-sleeved shirt. It must be the only tie he owns because he always seems to be wearing it – brown and silky with a heavy knot. His eyes are creased and grey-coloured, and a small black moustache sits above his mouth, which is twisted in anger.

‘You..!’ he growls in my direction, ‘are you responsible for this mess in my lobby?’ and he gestures with his hands out the door.

Calmly as I can muster, I begin, ‘Oh, that. Sorry sir. I fell over the Chaplin cutout and hurt my ankle, I was just resting up before coming back to fix it…’ I try to relax my upper body, ignoring the slight shake in my voice.

He seems to get redder and angrier. ‘Are you even aware what the time is? The next showing is in ten…minutes! And not only have you left my lobby looking like shit, but you’ve destroyed a piece of expensive merchandise! There is no fixing it! That’s coming out of your pay, mister. You’re lucky I don’t fire you on the spot!’ and he disappears into his office, grunting ‘students…useless, all of ‘em’, slamming the door as quickly as he enters through it.

His rant permeates the tiny room. My face feels hot and I can hear the echoes of people arriving and Amy’s cheery voice as she greets them from the ticket booth. I lift myself up and shuffle towards the open door, stealing a quick glance to make sure the locker is shut tight. The package should be safe in there for now.

Out in the brightness of the lobby a family is gathered by the listings on the far wall waiting to go in, whilst a couple of teenagers loiter at the ticket booth. The Chaplin cutout lies demolished in the centre. Amy darts me a sympathetic glance from her post – she must have heard the Manager’s tirade in its ugly entirety. I smile weakly back and step towards the wreckage.


The alleyway which runs alongside the cinema is perpetually shaded from the blaze of the sunlight, and as I step into it from the back door of the building a damp chill closes around me. Gaggles of people have started to arrive in the lobby for the six-fifteen screening, and the sound of chatter and footsteps drifts into the distance as I carry the cutout in extended arms to its final resting place.

The smell of Chinese food from the restaurant next door fills the narrow space, which is blocked off on one side by a tall metal gate. Bins and stacks of old crates and boxes cluster around the entrance to the alleyway, obscuring it from the immediate view of the street. A thin crack in the heavy shutters on the opposite wall is a favourite for the rats to scuttle in and out of, and I can hear some of them rustling as I move past.

As I search for an appropriate place to leave the cutout, pushing the damp cardboard to one side with the toe of my shoe, my eye is caught by the graffiti above the bins to the left of the shutters. There are the usual nondescript scribbles and lines scrawled in layers of coloured spray paint, but over the top of that, in fresh black lettering and at shoulder height, is a message:

‘DON’T OPEN IT.’

The letters look as if they are burning into the wall, large and purposeful and designed to catch the immediate attention of anyone looking. I drop the cardboard to the ground and move nearer, letting my eyes narrow as they slowly study each character.

It’s my handwriting.

It’s unmistakably mine. Each letter is tall and careful. The ‘O’s are slender oblongs and there’s a slight slant to the strokes on the ‘T’s. It’s been my handwriting for as long as I can remember.

I look around me. There is no one else here apart from a one-legged pigeon watching solemnly from the edge of the rooftop. A car passes at the opening of the alleyway, and a group of schoolgirls murmuring amongst themselves drift along the pavement. No one sees me. I stare back up at the wall, my mind racing and a feeling of gradual unease growing in the pit of my stomach like a virus. As I stand there, time seems to stop with me.


It’s apparent that the six-fifteen screening has already started before I make it back into the lobby, and Amy throws me a fierce stare as I float past into the theatre, to my position at the rear left of the aisles. Popcorn is strewn across the carpet like confetti and the rustle of packaging can be heard beneath the glare of the music. The seats are mostly full, and as I fumble around in the dark, some latecomers arrive. I find my torch and shine it over their outstretched hands, taking their tickets and waving my arm in the direction of the screen. Amidst the thickness of the shadows, I sense their confused frowns. Eventually they amble away.

I close my eyes and try to focus. The message is seared into my eyelids, the black writing burning, unmoving. Where did it come from? I search the reaches of my memory but have no recollection of ever writing on that wall. I imagine I must be crazy.

I think back to the parcel, sitting there in the quiet. It must hold the answer. It’s the key to the lock.

Slowly, I move toward the curtains and push apart the opening a little with the end of my torch. I crane my neck outside but can see no one around in the lobby. Stepping through the velvet, I make my way back to that red door marked ‘private’.

Sat on the bench and with the parcel back in my hands, I check the label once again. The writing is unchanged. It looks like a girl’s handwriting, swirly and joined-up and written with intention. I try to imagine the girl as she wrote it, head bent over so that the look of concentration in her face is semi-obscured by the falling of her long hair. Perhaps she wears a playful smile as she writes. I turn the package over in my hands so that the folds of the brown paper are facing up towards me.

‘DON’T OPEN IT.’ The words reappear at the forefront of my mind. I still can’t make sense of any of this. I feel as if I am in a dream. My head swims and sweat peels across my skin.

The room is getting hotter, the air more stifling. Taking a deep breath, I prise open the first folds of paper. My hands seem be acting freely.

Everything begins to slow. I try to concentrate on my fingers, but darkness closes in. I struggle to breath and my body gradually sinks backwards. I feel strangely disconnected from everything, like a displaced sheet of newspaper floating on a breeze. My world is left behind.


The dreamy reverie of the orchestra arouses me. I recognize the music; it’s the final scene of City Lights. My eyes open in the darkness, and as they adjust, I begin to focus on Chaplin’s smiling face up on the cinema screen as The Girl hands him a flower. I notice a single head silhouetted against the film’s grey glow. The music swells. ‘THE END’ beams as blackness takes up the frame. I hear the rattle of the projector.

As the lights go up, I look around. The theatre is empty. Hot and confused, I poke my head through the curtains to look at the lobby.

There is no one here, and the mid-afternoon sun bakes through the glass entrance doors. Where did everyone..?

My thought is cut sharply.

In the middle of the lobby, the Chaplin cutout stands, intact. Even from behind I can see his long cane flicked merrily, left arm bent outwards, bowler hat tipped. I walk out from the curtain and touch the cardboard. It’s smooth and warmed by the heat from the sun. Chaplin’s face beams at me. I stare back, transfixed.

Turning on my heels, I run back into the theatre and into the middle aisle. I look up at the vast, empty screen for answers, but nothing happens, the whole place is deserted and the air feels as if it has been drained of oxygen. I turn around to go outside when something catches my eye, to my left.

It’s the package. It’s nestled between two of the seats in the middle of the row, perched thoughtfully on the arm rest. My mind races. I try to count the seats from where I am stood, but I already know that the package sits in the exact place that I found it. Even the label is folded over in the same way. It is happening again.

All I can do is run, run beyond the theatre and past the cutout in the lobby and through the sun-scorched glass entrance, into the quiet street. A kid across the road stops and stares. The ice cream he is holding drips down his hand and wrist, onto the pavement.

It’s a hot, muggy summer afternoon, the kind of day where the pollen hangs thick and the sun beats down on the roads, giving the illusion that the tarmac is melting. I take a large sniff of the heavy air and turn back. Chaplin’s smile seems to flicker behind my eyes.


‘The Diary of a Teenage Girl’ and the function of the ‘feminist’ film

There has been a recent surge in appreciation and recognition of that rare and elusive creative force: the female film director. Whether this is due to a brighter light being cast on feminism in general, or perhaps the amassment of collective guilt and unease at the lack of female directors in the industry/Best Director category finally boiling over and being scrutinized, it is certainly something to be celebrated and encouraged, because the more female directors are paid attention to, the more we get to go and watch films like The Diary of a Teenage Girl, the ravishing debut of writer-director Marielle Heller, adapted from the Phoebe Gloeckner novel of the same name.

The film’s plucky 15-year-old protagonist, Minnie (Bel Powley), is an artist, and an avid explorer of her new and scary burgeoning sexuality, growing up in the beige-tinted boundary-transgressing landscape of San Francisco in the 1970s. She’s confused, emotional, and uncontrollably love-struck. Females watching the film will especially relate, and we subsequently find ourselves nostalgically thrown into the platform shoes of Minnie’s teenage predicaments. Heller expertly casts insight into this character’s haywire life and sometimes cringe-inducing difficulties with ease; if less care was taken in the film’s direction, or if Powley’s performance was a shade kookier, Minnie could’ve ended up being quite annoying, but instead we are empathizing with, and rooting for her from the get-go.

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Minnie’s mother Charlotte (Kristen Wiig) is a wild, experimental force of a character, and Wiig’s performance is one of the best things about the film, dominating every scene she is in. A less daring actress would have simply played the role for laughs, especially in the wake of Wiig’s Bridesmaids success, and she could have just given the audience what they expected (a stand-out scene where she pines for her younger years at the kitchen table stands out in particular as one that could’ve easily been more ‘comedic’ in its tone). But there is so much more strength in the subtle steeliness of Wiig’s character, which is balanced by a palpable love for her children and deep affinity with her daughter. She gives off the aura of an experienced, accomplished woman who is completely at ease in her own skin, yet she does this while making mistakes, getting jealous, and being human.

Her jealousy is directed at Minnie, who has started a conspicuous love affair with Charlotte’s boyfriend, Monroe (Alexander Skarsgård). Perhaps what makes this film ‘feminist’ is the equality in its portrayals of both genders; it would’ve been easy to make the men in the film (the central love interest in particular) stereotypical, one dimensional ‘bad guys’ who are just there to cause hurt to the female characters. The story’s message and tone, whilst female in its perspective, doesn’t fall into the trap of suggesting that ‘girls are better than boys’ or making the female characters out to be superior in any way (even Minnie’s empowerment in her superb closing line echoes her father’s guidance). Instead, it feels as though the men are as multi-faceted as the director can make them without pulling focus from the protagonist. Monroe falls in love with Minnie as equally as she falls for him, and he is the one who ends up getting hurt, and learning a harsh lesson in love. He’s as immature and unprepared for love as she is, with both characters just following their hearts.

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The animation which weaves its way through a handful of the scenes compliments the radical, hallucinogenic setting of the film and swims along with the progression of Minnie’s wild journey. Minnie’s pursuit of becoming an artist could be viewed as a metaphor for women’s pursuit of making themselves heard in the male-dominated film industry. Monroe looks at Minnie’s drawings unfavourably, telling her they will ‘weird people out’ if she tries to sell them. The boldness of this movie maybe will ‘weird’ some people out, even squirm a bit in their seats…but the warmth and honesty at its core is worth the trip, and comes as a breath of fresh (feminine) air.


The Diary of a Teenage Girl is in cinemas now.

REVIEW: The Salt of the Earth

In a documentary about a photographer, it’s easy to let the subject’s body of work take over the film’s central focus, and there are times in The Salt of the Earth when director Wim Wenders fills the screen with Sebastião Ribeiro Salgado’s powerful images and allows the ‘gallery’ to play out, with one image serenely fading into the next. Luckily, though, Wenders balances this with a thorough exploration of Salgado’s expeditions and the passion that drives him, intercut with first-hand commentary on the remarkable imagery from Salgado himself.

The film opens with a fairly standard (in documentary terms) account of Salgado’s beginnings growing up on a farm in Brazil, becoming a student of economics, and later moving to Europe with his wife. It was here that he ‘stumbled upon’ photography, and made the gutsy decision to dedicate his career, and life, to this newfound passion. Nobody could have guessed where it would take him, and the impact that his work would have.

Strangely, early-on in the film, Wenders decides to break the fourth wall and the documenting of him and his crew documenting Salgado is remarked upon; this is perhaps, as Wenders asserts, due to Salgado’s discomfort in front of the camera (‘I got a good shot of you, too!’) and divulges to us the photographer’s dignified, unassuming nature.

The story then unfolds to delineate Salgado’s journey across continents, through spates of long trips, and the underlying tale of estrangement from his children as a result. Considering the film was co-directed by his son, and allusions to his ‘rediscovery’ of his father are made during their Arctic trip early on in the film, more of a focus on their relationship (and a little more of Juliano’s perspective) perhaps could have benefited the narrative.

Wenders, at this point, takes us through an exhaustive and unremitting consecution of photographs from Salgado’s archives, which chronicle humanity in some of its ugliest forms; African genocide, starvation, the Kuwaiti oil fire and mass-migration are some of the contexts of the images outlined by Salgado’s commentary. This part of the film is not for the faint-hearted, and reveals the overall power and scope of the medium itself.

Ethiopia, 1984
Ethiopia, 1984

An extended monochrome talking-head interview with the subject plays behind the stills of Salgado’s nuanced and prodigious photographic career, and it’s through these that we really get to know this articulate, soft-spoken character. A lot of the rawness of the film comes from his direct emotional reaction to his photographs as they are shown to him, and he recalls each of his experiences with gentle, honest ease, giving us a window into the remarkable history which lies beneath the images.

Juliano Salgado commented on the decision to film his father in this way:

“We got him enclosed in a little room with black paper. In front of the camera, there were [projected] photographs. He would react to them. He would remember what had happened to him. He was confronted with his own images and lived his own emotions back. It was so powerful that in some places in the film, for instance in Rwanda, he could only bear to stay there for five minutes. That segment is almost real time. Suddenly, his subjectivity becomes an emotion that you feel.”

At one point, Salgado’s relaying of his experiences leads him to affirm:

“We are a ferocious animal. We humans are terrible animals. Our history is a history of wars. It’s an endless story, a tale of madness.”

When working in Rwanda and witnessing such brutality, through the extensive suffering of its people and thousands of deaths per day, Salgado became very ill and returned to his home in Paris. He had lost his faith in humanity.

This led to his breakdown, and subsequent return to Brazil. The redemption of his faith came in the form of the re-planting and restoration of his family’s farmland, which makes up the concluding section of the film. This proves to be the story arc that makes the documentary, with Salgado’s passion for the land and the flourishing of the nature reserve on which it now stands giving the final act a much-needed uplift through the metaphor of the assertion of man’s ability to rebuild; grow; make reparation. This message of hope is communicated through the photography of Salgado’s final monumental collection Genesis, which chronicles humanity’s connection to nature ‘from the beginning’.

The Salt of the Earth does justice to its fascinating subject, due to Wenders skilfully giving the photographs the respect and focus they deserve whilst painting a nuanced picture of the man behind the camera, and his courageous spirit. Although at times it’s certainly not an easy watch, its message of hope in humanity’s (and nature’s) integrity prevails, thanks to Salgado’s final, beautiful ‘love letter to the planet’.

The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) in north-eastern Alaska is the largest wildlife refuge in the United States, covering no fewer than six ecozones and stretching some 200 miles (300 kilometers) from north to south. Along its northern coast, barrier islands, coastal lagoons, salt marshes and river deltas of the Arctic coastal tundra provide a marvelous habitat for migratory water birds. Coastal land and sea ice are sought by caribou seeking relief from insects during the summer and by Arctic bears for hunt-ing seals and breeding during winter. This photograph was taken in the eastern part of the Brooks Range, which rises to over 9,800 feet (3,000 meters); the rugged stretch of mountains is sliced by deep river valleys and numerous glaciers. The immense variety of microclimates results from the collision of cold air from the Arctic and hot air coming from the Yukon River  region of central Alaska. Alaska. USA. June and July 2009
Alaska, 2009

The Salt of the Earth is in cinemas now.

Twin Peaks: The missing piece in TV’s modern landscape?

Bad Pasty

By Jade O’Halloran

Nestled somewhere in time, in a place both strange and wonderful, it has been lying in wait. In this rich, dark, Lynchian place, the birds sing a pretty song, and there’s always music in the air. Characters dance alone in diners where the coffee is always hot. Coincidence and fate figure largely. Things are not always what they seem.

“I’ll see you again in 25 years.”

Few TV shows have provoked such a level of speculation and, like much of David Lynch’s work, inspired such discussion as the legacy of Twin Peaks. Fans have demonstrated an unrivalled level of dedication to keeping the fire of Twin Peaks burning for over two decades, a testament to the power of Lynch’s universe. And finally, their dedication has paid off, with their reward coming in the form of nine episodes of what will no doubt be something extraordinary: a continuation…

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