Landscapes

Click here to find ‘Landscapes’ in the GSA Library Catalogue

So, some films with striking landscapes. Rocky beaches, the edge of the land, subterranean, heavenly and earthly landscapes in Ingmar Bergman’s The Seventh Seal, a parable playing with medieval allegory, faith, the Crusades and the Black Death. Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s Uncle Boomhe Who Can Recall His Past Lives moves through the rural landscape of Nabua in Thailand, a village scarred by conflict and persecution in the 1960s and 1970s and the narrative leads the characters towards the caves, a mythical symbol for rebirth and the passing through before reincarnation. In Terrence Malick’s Badlands, a couple rampage across Dakota’s epic Badlands National Park and shelter in a treehouse they build. The Searchers is a 1956 American Technicolor Western filmed in Utah’s Monument Valley, starring John Wayne and directed by John Ford who, it has to be said, had played a KKK horseman in The Birth of a Nation. Other Hollywood films loved for their landscapes include of course Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings Trilogy, filmed in New Zealand. Andrea Arnold’s adaptation of  Wuthering Heights somehow manages to cinematically mimic the way Bronte’s description of wild Heathcliff mesh into the rugged landscape of the Yorkshire Moors. Orkney’s glaciated, red sandstone landscapes are the setting for Margaret Tait‘s 1952 portrait of her mother, Portrait of Ga. Another artist, Andy Goldsworthy, and his work with trees, rivers, rocks, rain and ice are profiled in a documentary by Thomas Riedelsheimer. Bill Forsyth’s 1983 comedy Local Hero sees a hot-shot American oil executive trying to buy out a fictional village on the West Coast of Scotland to make room for a refinery. With less giggles and happy endings, Jennifer Baichwal’s Manufactured Landscapes also tracks the devastating impact of industrial expansion, framing  the surreal landscapes of the 21st century: China’s mountains of computer waste; the Yangtze River where whole towns are disappearing in the flooding caused by the Three Gorges Dam; the shipbreaking yards of Bangladesh; Shanghai, with its increasingly crowded skyline and millions of new inhabitants. The Epic of Everest, lovingly restored by the BFI, was made by Captain John Noel with a prodigious, problematic and colonial sense of capturing landscapes never before seen. This sense of the sublime and expedition are turned around and tickled by the sense of journey and inverted attention to mundane road signs, moss and localities in Patrick Keiller’s Robinson in Ruins projects.

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