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Homo sapiens (2016)

Not Rated | | Documentary | 19 October 2016 (France)
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Homo Sapiens shows stunning images of forgotten places, buildings we constructed and then left.

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2 nominations. See more awards »

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The images could be taken from a science fiction film set on planet Earth after it's become uninhabitable. Abandoned buildings - housing estates, shops, cinemas, hospitals, offices, schools, a library, amusement parks and prisons. Places and areas being reclaimed by nature, such as a moss-covered bar with ferns growing between the stools, a still stocked soft drinks machine now covered with vegetation, an overgrown rubbish dump, or tanks in the forest. Tall grass sprouts from cracks in the asphalt. Birds circle in the dome of a decommissioned reactor, a gust of wind makes window blinds clatter or scraps of paper float around, the noise of the rain: sounds entirely without words, plenty of room for contemplation. All these locations carry the traces of erstwhile human existence and bear witness to a civilisation that brought forth architecture, art, the entertainment industry, technologies, ideologies, wars and environmental disasters. Written by AnonymousB

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19 October 2016 (France)  »

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Homo Sapiens  »

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One scene was shot in former swimming pool "tropicana" , Rotterdam NL. See more »

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References The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1 (2011) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Apocalypse NOW
31 July 2016 | by See all my reviews

A random series of establishing shots for post-apocalyptic movies that never get started, Homo Sapiens is more a slide show than a movie; yet, it's hypnotic and thought-provoking. Vacant malls, theaters, temples, groceries, neighborhoods, and parking lots are the stars here, no humans are to be seen. We can only assume each environment was abandoned by natural or man-made disaster. Gentle breezes flow through the frame and no soundtrack blares, manipulating your emotions, just the ambient tones of cups rolling in the breeze, plastic flapping, flies buzzing, or pigeons cooing.

These may just be 30-second screen savers for complete nihilists, but it's amazing how, over several minutes (the documentary is about one and a half hours) the imagination begins firing and you find yourself constructing your own story. Some shots have clues as to their location; Asia, North America, the Middle East…but most shots could be anywhere, remnants of civilization wiped out, perhaps for months, perhaps years. Chernobyl, Fukushima, Bulgaria, Argentina. Absent any intrusion of a sense of story, or even editing sequence to give us a sense of time or place, we could easily be alien travelers or archaeologists, looking at the broken and rotting remains of some lost civilization. You may have seen a location or two in some movie or other; every scene looks like a movie set created by some top art director.

The sound is the only real narrator, and if you listen closely, there are distant, perhaps phantom, sounds; alarms, a clang here or there. You'd half expect a narrator's voice to fire up at any moment; a Morgan Freeman, David Attenborough or Werner Herzog. The camera does not swoop or glide along a track; we are immobile, fixed, and the only thing that moves is nature.

It would have been easier to string together a series of found footage from urban adventurists, but director/photographer Nikolaus Geyrhalter clearly wanted all his shots to have a consistent tone and lighting. Every shot could have been designed by a Stanley Kubrick or David Lean. There was some subtle digital manipulation or wind effects, but otherwise we are seeing it as is. There is no dramatic impact, just the matter-of-factness of humanity's bleak demise and nature's time-tested powers of reclamation. If there is a dramatic effect, it's that the scenes at the end are in winter climes, and the final image is consumed by a blizzard's whiteout. The shock, you realize afterward, is not the harrowing, desolate beauty of these post-apocalyptic sites—but the fact that they exist here and now.

I've never seen rebar look so beautiful.


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