Thursday, June 24, 2021

With Echoes of the Invisible (2020) now on VOD here are Steve's and Nate's reviews from last year

Two hour meditation on life, time, the interconnected nature of all things, god, the universe and everything else. It forces you to ponder how you see the world and what you think it is all about. We do this by looking at a blind man who ran through Death Valley, a photographer who searches out the oldest living things in the world, scientists looking for the source of the creation of the universe and the world, and a journalist who walks from Ethiopia, where humans were supposed to have come into being, to the farthest point south in South America, the farthest anyone traveled from our birth place. It is a film about silence and music and humanity.

When you see ECHOES OF THE INVISIBLE don't think about it. Just let it wash over you. I say this because going in I simply started it and let it go. I didn't think about what it was or where it was going. I just let it go. While early on there were moments when I wanted know how it was going to tie it all together after a while I just fell into the film. I stopped caring about the end. I simply let it be and my mind and heart  opened.

Both pretentious and profound, as well as bumpy and perfect ECHOES has placed me somewhere beyond words. It is a film I can not intellectually explain to you since my reaction to it was purely emotional and spiritual. It is very much a film that is going to effect and affect every one who sees it differently. As the film frequently points out we all have out own perspectives. It is a film that touched me deeply, making real many notions of how I see the world. Its final section about how certain monks throw the books away and simply pray by gazing on the world makes perfect sense to me. There is much more that meant a great deal to me.

If you need to know how deeply the film affected me consider that half way in I stopped the film to tell a couple of friends that they should see it, and that was before the ending utterly wrecked me in the best possible way.

I got nothing beyond that. That was one of the most profound  things I've seen. Right now it is dancing in my heart and head making me feel things but not giving me the word to express the emotion. What I feel are things no words could ever adequately express. You will just have to see the film and travel to that place inside your own heart.

See this film for in a time of uncertainty and fear it puts it all into perspective. It may not make it better but it puts the world into a place where things are a little less dark.

I have no idea if the lightning will strike you too but if you want to see a film of stunning beauty (oh hell I forgot to mention how great the film looks) and rampant  and  unbridled humanity then see ECHOES OF THE INVISIBLE  when it plays at a festival or theater near you

One of the tip top best films I've seen in 2020

And now Nate Hood's take:

In the Ethiopian desert, Eastern Orthodox monks live alone in caves, eschewing all human contact. Their churches are hewn from the stony cliffs and can only be reached by pulling oneself up the side of the vertical chasm with a rope. There they live silent lives of prayer practicing a 1,700 year old form of Christian meditation known as Hesychia which seeks to still and silence the soul and mind, shutting out all the mental and emotional pollution of the outside world so they can commune with God. Elsewhere in Tibet, Buddhist monks make mandalas of sand that mimic the fractal patterns of the cosmos which echo down throughout creation from the warp of galactic clusters to the shape of river deltas and down, down to the twistings of neural pathways in the brain. Elsewhere still, journalist Paul Salopek sets out to walk the 21,000 miles from the cradle of humanity in Africa to the southern tip of South America, mimicking our prehistoric ancestors’ migration across the globe, dodging tribal warfare and corrupt police states, all the while reconnecting with our genetic memory of ceaseless migration before our species invented the concept of Home.

Look across the world and there are still more wanderers and explorers of the extreme and inexplicable: photographer Rachel Sussman takes pictures of the oldest surviving organisms in the world like a half million year old Siberian actinobacteria; a group of theoretical physicists live in a city-sized machine underground seeking to literally create matter out of almost nothing; a blind endurance runner who’s trained his whole life to run through Death Valley tries not to die while running through one of the most inhospitable places in the world.

All of these stories weave together in Steve Elkins’ stunning documentary Echoes of the Invisible. What do they have in common? They all focus on humans desperately pushing against the boundaries of what can be known about ourselves, our universe, and our places within in. It’s a document of feeble mankind forcing itself to the brink of extremes and finding beauty, peace, solitude, and perhaps even salvation.

Watching it, one is reminded of the outsider eccentrics populating the documentaries of Werner Herzog and Errol Morris and the experimental films of Godfrey Reggio. But whereas Herzog and Morris are largely content with letting their bizarre subjects exist within their own cloistered environments, Elkins seeks to connect all these disparate stories into a singular saga of human struggle and endeavor—and incredibly, he succeeds. And whereas Reggio’s films are largely stoic aesthetic tone poems about alienation and societal decay, Elkins favors bold, immediate emotions intended to sooth, comfort, and inspire.

It’s easy to imagine the crowd that turns their noses up at the hopeful cheesiness of Spielberg or the self-absorbed spiritualism of Malick finding this film hopelessly pretentious. Laughable, even. But this film is a prayer, and prayers require the resignation and surrender of the self to something greater.

Go, seek this film, and surrender. Be healed. Amen.


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