The Observers


Jacqueline Goss is an experimental filmmaker whose short works using free-ranging associations, 2-D digital graphics, and apposite tidbits create funny, distinctly personal miniature histories of ambitious mapping projects, including New World cartography (There There Square), the human-genome project (The 100th Undone), and sign language (So to Speak). The Observers, Goss’s lean 67-minute, 16mm first feature, is composed of a year in the life at the heart of another such endeavor, the weather observatory atop Mount Washington, New Hampshire, famed for its vortex-like winds. The location can only be determined through context clues, for there is no audible dialogue spoken on-screen in this solitary film. Sectioned into ice-rimed winter and summer shifts, diptych Observers “stars” two female caretakers/climatologists—though, only incidental protagonists, they freely wander in and out of frame. In the downtime, of which there is much, they may practice tying knots, tooting recorders, or trying to open a mysterious code-locked briefcase by process of elimination, before just as mysteriously reburying it under a cairn. Watching The Observers, a line from Mike Leigh’s Naked occurs: “Congratulations. You’ve succeeded in convincing me that you do have the most tedious fucking job.” There are moments when the tedium loosens you to melt into the landscape, and you swear you can hear the moss on the rocks start talking.