Few things are as simultaneously terrifying and liberating as the notion of time’s relativity—that the measure of our hours and days is but a construct to manage what’s actually endless chaos. Peter Mettler’s ruminative, frequently astounding essay film doesn’t just contemplate this notion; it aims to cinematically embody it. From the sun’s surface to the deep earth, Hawaiian volcanoes to Detroit’s decay, Mettler explores the different ways that we experience and define time, using his own documentary as a mind-bending demonstration of its mutability.
The fact that voiceovers from the filmmaker and various interview subjects come off as annoyances says less about what’s being said—to be fair, it’s often fascinating—than about how persuasively the film creates a psychic space beyond language. Watching lava slowly transform a landscape, or rave dancers respond to minute musical variations, you’re left intuiting vague and mystical resonances—yet also confronting your own boredom. After the film hits its peak with a trippy composite of previously seen shapes and patterns—a Stan Brakhage–worthy abstraction that dares to suggest infinity—even tedium suddenly seems precious. It leaves you without the net of linear temporality, frightened and freed by the implications.
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