News from the Locarno Festival

The End of Time


Swiss-Canadian filmmaker Peter Metter takes his sweet time making films. In the years since the transcendental epic Gambling, Gods and LSD (2002), Mettler again has traveled the world amassing mind-blowing images and sensations, and returns to Locarno with a meditation on a subject we experience daily but rarely take the time to ponder: time itself.

His leapfrogging across space takes him from the now-famous particle accelerator in CERN to the ruins of Detroit to the lava flow of Big Island of Hawaii and to a Hindu death rite in India. Within each sub-adventure, experts and regular people provide their opinions on the meaning and uses of time, often in voiceover.

Metter proceeds instinctively; each unpredictable edit builds up an opus linked by the ephemeral presence of billowing clouds. And there is clearly a presence behind these images. Mettler’s highly personal approach to a vast subject that is essentially unfilmable is not philosophical, rather perceptual (and ultimately environmental).

Seemingly random—as random, say, as the weather—Mettler’s trippy films work as perceptual experiences, and The End of Time makes viewers conscious of cinematic time, and of their own sense of time as they are watching the film. What does it mean to be a viewer, sitting in a theatre watching a film about a film about time? Like the scientists in CERN, Mettler is exploring for the sake of knowing—free your mind, and the rest will follow.

Mark Peranson

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