- Gareth Crook
Meanwhile on Earth (2020) - 6/10
Updated: Apr 25, 2021
A documentary quite unlike anything else I’ve seen. This Swedish offering is more like a Roy Anderson film. Scenes play out one by one, the camera locked as the action’s captured within the frame. Now I say action, but there’s nothing scripted. It’s an honest albeit carefully crafted look at how funerals work. It’s probably not for everyone. In all honesty I’ve no idea how things of this nature work in England, but I’m pretty sure the Swedes do it better. It certainly appears to have style, grace and a beautiful minimalism. There’s a sense that you could point the camera almost anywhere and capture something cinematic. Maybe that’s just Sweden? I need to visit. There’s a weird mundanity to it and a sense that although we’re party to some intimate settings and candid moments, we’re kept at arms length by the camera. It’s respectful. Despite its declaration to document the industry of death. It is carefully crafted and clearly intent on being a piece of cinematic art as much as anything else. It’s nice though, simple. Nothing to decide, just watch and study. Preparing bodies, preparing funerals. Digging graves, adjusting wreaths. Everything we see has a purpose and connection, if not always immediately obvious. It’s playful, drip feeding this world to us without anything extra, no guide, no narration. Just what we pick up from those on screen, bits of conversations, details of what’s happening in the moment, but for their benefit, not ours. It’s not at all somber, there’s even some light humour, but mostly there’s calm. Quite, well organised, uncluttered calm.