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The Sky Trembles and the Earth Is Afraid and the Two Eyes Are Not Brothers – My Life is a Tin

“The Sky Trembles and the Earth Is Afraid and the Two Eyes Are Not Brothers” – Ben Rivers

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In his most ambitious work, British artist and filmmaker Ben Rivers draws heavily upon that most underappreciated genre – the film about filmmaking – yet dances his way towards a more narrative cinema. The Sky Trembles and the Earth Is Afraid and the Two Eyes Are Not Brothers is a daring depiction of two mirrored fictional worlds connected by a thin thread. Rivers immerses us into Morocco’s rugged Atlas mountains, presenting a comment-free observation of what we realize is a film set, though not your typical one.

Ardent cinephiles will recognize it as the set of Spanish director Oliver Laxe’s forthcoming feature Las Mimosas. Much can be gleaned about the necessary problem solving required to mount a production in such a distant location, for one, the mule-to-actor ratio. With such complications, it’s no wonder the director leaves his crew behind, as Laxe drives off into the distance. The rest of The Sky Trembles and the Earth Is Afraid and the Two Eyes Are Not Brothers deals with the ramification of Laxe’s wandering, taking as its source Paul Bowles’ short story A Distant Episode.

Bowles fans can extrapolate the action, while others are best left surprised by Laxe’s country-spanning, hallucinogenic Western adventure, which ends up with its protagonist disheveled and dehumanized. (Note: the title comes from Bowles’ He of the Assembly, which Laxe reads to the camera.) Shooting as usual in 16mm Cinemascope, Rivers has made an atypical, defamiliarizing landscape film that interweaves documentary and fiction, myth and reality, an exciting transgression of established boundaries that well rewards the patient viewer.

Mark Peranson

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