Sunday, May 3, 2009

Sherman’s March directed by Ross McElwee

Sherman’s March (1986) is a film with the intentions of following Sherman’s route through the south during the civil war. Sherman is hated by the south for his actions during the war and not well liked by the north. However, the film quickly turns to McElwee’s contemplations on nuclear proliferation and his attempts to find love while on the journey.

McElwee funded this film through a grant that he mentioned receiving. He was completely involved in the writing, filming and editing of this film. In the beginning he had an agenda which was to follow Sherman’s march but he deviated slightly from his plan by including his personal relationships. At one point, McElwee talks to the camera stating that he has two options. He can continue with the originally planned route or stay where he is longer. McElwee chooses to continue with the original route but this shows us that his film has an element of impromptu which makes it different from the focused point of other films and leaves more room for inspiration. This film felt scattered in that I had no idea what was going to happen next and neither did the film maker. At the conclusion of the film, he decides to forgo relationships for a while but ends up asking his teacher out to a movie.

All of the interviews were very casual and in their natural locations with lighting that was available. The viewer is able to hear the director asking questions and chatting with the interviewee as well as hear him talking throughout the length of the film. McElwee appears periodically to do a monologue with the camera. He used his camera as a conversation piece and filmed his lady friends doing their everyday tasks and conversing with him. The sounds and music that were heard were part of the interviews and not put there on purpose by the film maker. If there was additional music I did not notice the music in this film. Content of the film was not affected by the choice or lack thereof of music.

There were three main times when he mentioned his nightmares about nuclear war while a moon was shown on the screen. Nuclear proliferation did not seem as big a theme as his search for a relationship or Sherman’s march, but it was present. He used some archival photographs and images of Sherman and his time, but the majority of the scenes were his shots of scenery, places where Sherman had been, and of the people in his life.

Out of the previous films I have watched and blogged about this one had the most recognizable subjectivity in that it was about the film maker’s own perspective and investigations on the topics of Sherman, women and nuclear war. Since the film maker is forward with his opinions and thoughts, the film does not try to hide the fact that it is subjective which I think gives it an edge to other films who try to appear objective.

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