Near as any contemporary film has come to rendering the Rorschach inkblot test, Mikael Kristersson’s Kestrel’s Eye takes an expressionless tableau and converts it into a metaphor for labor, language, and the nature of nature itself. Set principally in a church tower overlooking a mild Swedish hinterland, this patiently observed reverie portrays the seasonal conduct of two European falcons as they build shelter, lay eggs, hunt mice, and peep-peep on the preoccupied homo sapiens floundering below. A meditative piece in the lyric tradition, the 86-minute film is distinguished from a Discovery special by its uniquely fowl-minded aesthetic. Via the unaffected soundtrack (no narrator or score) and bird’s-eye point of view, the audience viscerally experiences the kestrel’s world: an airplane overhead, a car alarm, a scampering cat, and, most strange and unnatural, a village marching band. Courtesy of a motor-equipped hang glider, we even get a sense of the bird’s flight. The film’s gaze allows us to consider ourselves as well—a simultaneity made most poignant when the kestrel’s freshly hatched nuclear family perch themselves to watch a human parent assembling a camping tent with his children. The scene accentuates a link between two species of nest-builders, lighting a spark in our eyes, not to mention the kestrel’s.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on January 25, 2000