The Sound of Insects

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Radio DRS2 Reflexe: Wie dokumentiere ich das Unzeigbare?

art-tv: Peter Liechti

See also:
Visions du Réel - Interview avec Peter Liechti (video)

ISAN: 0000-0003-AD0E-0000-H-0000-0000-N

Europäischer Filmpreis 2009 Bester Dokumentarfilm
Schweizer Filmpreis 2010: Beste Filmmusik
Visions du Réel Nyon 2009
Zürcher Filmpreis 2009

The Sound of Insects (Das Summen der Insekten)

CH 2008 80'

Director: Peter Liechti
Script: Peter Liechti, Masahiko Shimada
Camera: Peter Liechti
Sound: Balthasar Jucker
Editing:: Tania Stöcklin
Music:: Norbert Möslang
Production:: Peter Liechti

Peter Liechti 2008 80'

Liechti's film tells the incredible story of how the mummified corpse of a 40-year-old man was discovered by a hunter in one of the most remote parts of Switzerland. The dead man's detailed notes reveal that he actually committed suicide through self-imposed starvation only the summer before. Liechti's documentary is a stunning rapprochement of a fictional text, which itself is based upon a true event: a cinematic manifesto for life, challenged by the main character's radical renunciation of life itself.

It was the great figure of absence thatdecided Peter Liechti to tell the history of aman of some forty years of age who soughtrefuge within a forest, where he decided tolet himself literally die of hunger. Yet, thisperson is strangely present through his diaryfound beside his corpse, parts of which areread off screen. We hear the restrainedvoices of Peter Mettler for the English versionand of Alexander Tschernek for theGerman, recounting the prosaic rather thanphilosophical (!) details of this freelyaccepted martyrdom. The man actuallyexisted in Japan, where writer ShimadaMasahiko was inspired by the diary to tell astory that Peter Liechti made the basis of hisfilm.
From then on, a symphony of sounds andimages must be imagined, which have beenemployed in order to outline the everydaylife of this man. The forest has the apparelof a constantly active universe, beaten bythe winds and storms, burnt by the sun, andinhabited by thousands of birds and insectsthat make up a terribly living picture. Thecabin, hung with transparent sheeting, isfilmed like a haunted house. The cameraobserves, moves, changes viewpoints, andcaptures the states of light and the infinitemovements of nature, whose memory(doubtlessly?) retains some traces of theman, who has now disappeared. This doesnot concern a subjective point of view thatwould replace the man in seeking to guidethe spectator, but rather a quest for themetaphysical dimension of the story. Whatcan the cinema of men accomplish at thevery place where this life was engulfedwithin the heart of an abundant nature?
One must listen to and regard this forest,which thus acquires a mythological character.And then will arise some gusts ofimages, fragmentary reminiscences, faces,silhouettes, phantoms from another world –including this white horse – that signal thoseshipwrecked by life. Peter Liechti is theinspired architect of this meditative and hallucinatoryarea constructed by the film.Withus, he wishes to believe that the cinema maybe this magnificent magical link between theliving and the dead.
Visions du Réel Nyon 2009