An Interview with Albert Elings, Eugenie Jansen (Directors)
Filming the Passage of Time
Q: Why did you choose a village on the edge of the Rhine as the location for filming?
AE&EJ: There were two reasons. This village is visited by floods nearly every year, very characteristic of the Netherlands. That’s one reason. The other reason is that time flows more slowly there than in other places.
Development in Holland today takes place randomly. Areas that still retain their original atmosphere have become rare. We didn’t know anyone in the village at first, but as we filmed we started to become very close with the village residents. When we told them in September that we would be coming to the Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival for a screening, they were very surprised and happy.
Q: Why did you try to capture “time”?
AE&EJ: Film is an art based on time. Exactly because it is a movie, you can mark the flow of time on film and display it. So when we shoot a film, we’re very particular about time. This time in particular, we chose one location, and filmed the flow of time in just this place.
Q: You took about seven years to shoot this film. In your statement in the official catalog, you use the phrase, “to study time, to try and capture time.” What was your basis for choosing footage for the film?
AE&EJ: It did take seven years to shoot, but we didn’t actually use that much film. The amount of shot footage that we used in the movie was only about ten percent of the total. There are two kinds of time: nature’s time and human time. Nature’s time is, to put it differently, the flow of the seasons. Spring comes, then summer, and before long fall and winter—that becomes a cycle that repeats every year. Human time, on the other hand, flows linearly in one direction from past to future. For example, there are shots of people changing the signs before each flood. Humans use what they’ve learned year after year to act differently each successive year. We tried to choose footage that would highlight this contrast between natural and human time.
During the time we were shooting, trees were gradually cut down and a track for train line was laid, and then a subway started operation. l finished shooting in the seventh year, when signs of human development had left quite an impression. Actually, the swirling water in the scene of the river symbolizes the passage of time. Year after year we filmed natural phenomena and human actions, and then expressed the passage of time by assembling them piece by piece. You’ve probably noticed this if you’ve seen other documentary films, but many use a great deal of narration and try to explain things through words. We wanted our audience to feel for themselves a variety of impressions when viewing the film. That’s why in our film we intentionally omitted the kinds of narration and voiceovers that are used in most documentaries.
(Compiled by Okuyama Kanako)
Interviewers: Okuyama Kanako, Tsukamoto Junko / Interpreter: Saito Shinko
Photography: Abe Akiko / Video: Oyama Daisuke / 2005-10-08