9th October 2016 6.15pm at BFI Southbank
In keeping with this year’s apparent trend of hyper-realism in film, Eglantine, by Margaret Salmon, appears to be part fantasy, part nature documentary, part home movie. Opening with a reel of Eglantine, her mother and siblings camping, it is a scene reminiscent of any ordinary family outing shot with a mobile phone or handycam. When Eglantine wanders off from the campsite one night, her discovery of the natural world around her begins – an Alice in Wonderland adventure blending the real with the fantastic.
Endearingly recalling childhood memories that most of us have, this feature also echoes another clearly popular interest in terms of movie subject matter: environmentalism. Taking a close look at our precious indigenous environment, it does so almost excruciatingly slowly, as if a plea for us to slow down and smell the roses. In our manic, tech-obsessed world, we have forgotten about this most valuable asset that we have dangerously neglected: nature, a blessing that gives us tremendous joy and health, without which we cannot survive.
Combining a child’s imaginary flights of fancy with a quiet, meditative study of the natural landscape, Salmon seems to take us back to our grandmother’s house, when life was slower and we read fairy tales in front of the fireplace. Who does not remember explorations in the woods, climbing trees, watching animals, and looking for turtles, frogs and lizards?
The improvisational quality of the acting and camera work produces a feeling of spontaneity, which can be lost in adulthood but is a wonderful and precious aspect of childhood. Capturing the tiniest details of wildlife, Salmon honours her subjects with a spiritual reverence. Using techniques of experimental film, Italian Neo-Realism and European Avant-Garde, as well as wildlife documentaries, her style resembles a kind of dream-world, fantasy realism.
An affectionate, contemplative ode to nature and to the wonders of being a child, Eglantine provides a lovely escape to a simpler state of being, asking us to take a moment, breathe, and appreciate what is really important.
Eglantine does not have a UK release date yet.
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