A Hunger Artist on the Brink in The Sound of Insects
A sort of dark flipside to Danny Boyles life-affirming 127 Hours, Peter Liechtis philosophically dour The Sound of Insects confronts the same aesthetic problem: how to make a narrative set over an extended period of time in an isolated enclave cinematically palatable. Avoiding Boyles riot of candy-colored visions and flashbacks, Liechti, in crafting his documentary about an anonymous man who fled to the Austrian wetlands to starve himself to death, pares his toolbox down to a handful of well-chosen images, the text of the journal the man left behind, and an ambient sound mix of chirping insects and guitar feedback. The director is also blessed with a more intelligent, reflective protagonist than Boyle was, even if hes represented onscreen only by his words. Documenting the last two months of his life, the mans journal is one non-believers alternately mundane and poetic account of the struggle with the physical and existential reality of death. Still, if Liechtis film presents a skillful enough assemblage of image/music/text, without additional context surrounding its subjects life, sharing the mans final excruciating moments eventually devolves into an exercise in morbidity, an experience considerably more ponderous than profound.
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