Friday, June 15, 2012
Sweetgrass (2009), by anthropologists Ilisa Barbash and Lucien Castaing-Taylor, documents sheep and herders making their way to summer pasture in Montana. The film shows how composition makes a powerful impact on documentary meaning. Each scene is deliberately framed for artistic, inquisitive, or rhetorical purposes. Small scale intimacy, showing the individuality of one sheep (top still) merges with wide-angle expansiveness (second still) to create a contemplative and visually lavish mood. Humans are part of the story (third still) but Sweetgrass is most memorable as a visual document.