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Review Cinemaescrito 05/07/2021

Berg, by Joke Olthaar - Nature or ecology has always been an important premise for poetic documentaries. We can give several examples, among the films by Joris Ivens, like Regen in the distant years of 1929, or even the ecstatic films by Artavazd Pelechian. Berg (pictured above), by Dutch filmmaker Joke Olthaar, seems to dialogue with this tradition. The film is an impressive visual journey through high mountainous regions. It is a landscape film based on the enjoyment of images of lush black-and-white photography. There is, therefore, no information whatsoever.

We rarely see one or another person in the distance, without identification, almost as if they were one of the animals that insist on surviving in these conditions. It is a landscape film that looks like an architectural film. The impressive thing about Berg is precisely how the film concentrates on this feeling of awe at the beauty of natural landscapes - and nothing else matters to it. It is, therefore, a work closer to the visual arts, or even, some would say, to photography.

Time is an important variable in Berg, as is sound, but it is possible to affirm that they are on an unbalanced scale in relation to the visual importance of the image, which occupies all the attention of the language work. Nothing could be more unconventional, some would think. At the same time, the visual pleasure of the film is not far removed from the photogenic seduction of a National Geographic, and its exotic destinations. However, the austerity of Berg's physical materiality removes a photogenic-publicity temptation from these images, but at some moments it even touches this possibility.

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