Friday, 20 January 2017

REVIEW - HOMO SAPIENS (NIKOLAUS GEYRHALTER)


Nikolaus Geyrhalter continues to stake a legitimate claim as one of cinema's foremost visual poets, and one of its most underappreciated. Homo Sapiens is his melancholy ode to humanity, its presence felt in its absence. In these fleeting tableaux of desolation, we are presented as powerless in the face of our own habitat yet unrelentingly hostile to it, we are callous and flippant and wasteful yet equipped with the capacity for sublime creativity, we are doomed to destruction yet enduring in what tacky thumbprints we leave on the surface of a simple sphere of rock, fire and water that we've never deserved. Homo Sapiens is a movie of the mind, in which the action is staged wholly within one's own interpretation of its content; contrary to this rarefied approach to filmmaking, Geyrhalter remains an uncommonly generous artist with a genuinely extraordinary eye. Cumulatively a curious portrait of an apparently alien landscape, this collage is conflictingly composed of a variety of vaguely recognizable images in isolation - this strange planet is undeniably our own, as is this aggregate of fearsome dilapidation and vulnerability. Geyrhalter is a minimalist in form, but a maximalist in force and in what worth he can wring out of the simplest of scenarios; his frames are alive with movement, architecturally striking, not merely accompanied by elemental sound but reconstructed by it, in the humbling realization that the world will carry on with or without us, and perhaps preferably without. If Homo Sapiens is altogether too poetic to succumb entirely to such pessimism, it's perhaps for the best - Geyrhalter turns despondency into artistry, to chilling, stunning effect.