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12 September 2010 (Canada)  »

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(16 mm version)
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The lying eye
3 November 2011 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

If you've never seen a Nathaniel Dorsky movie, what he usually does is make short soundless non-narrative films that create zones of peace. He wrote a book in 2003 called Devotional Cinema, which sums up what he's about. This year the London Film Festival paired him up with Ben Rivers, an artist who also makes very unrealistic movies, in that they both find places and turn them into something they're not; often for example Dorsky's filming in a very noisy stressful area, such as a subway, but his trickery will turn a fragment of that experience into something restful. Other times he'll turn a flower garden into a fantastical zone.

Pastourelle was part of the third programme of his films I've been to and it's clear that he actually has a modus operandi, in that there are a lot of recycled images. For example, he'll do tracking shots up stems of plants, he'll have a plant foreground that's blocking out a tantalising plant background, and he likes the shadows that come from meshes. Often he fiddles with the focus and produces images that to all intents and purposes are abstract, these are often the best images.

In each of the movies though there's a subset of pretty unique images that tomb raider Nathaniel Dorsky has found. Here are the descriptions that occurred to me from the stream of consciousness whilst watching, these are for the "unique" images: green fairy world; shimmercrawl; metallic concentric clockwork part ovals framed by dark; dark tie shadow man, shade top; electric Chartreuse spherical pressure vessels, four looping away against a black background; octagon portal with out ray shooting; blinds twirling lazily; railway station grid on angle; red bolt rectangles coming in on diagonal Quite often I got a spiritual feeling from Dorsky's movies, particularly Aubade and Compline. I didn't feel anything like that in Pastourelle, although there were moments of magic. I gained great succour from the "green fairy world", in which I could feel the softness of the grass, the lures of the domain, the pulling blue without blue, bowers around corners, fairy bluebirds ruffling in the trees. It's an image I can store up and hide in.

Nathaniel Dorsky prefers not to lets his films be transferred digitally, so the chances of seeing this stuff are slim unless you go to good festivals.


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