Culture is the human race’s biggest achievement and at the same time the symbol of the inevitability of death and decay—in Nicolaus Geyrhalter’s film featuring no human beings.
The Austrian director, producer and writer Nicolaus Geyrhalter is the author of over a dozen documentaries, including the critically acclaimed Pripyat (1999), about people who continued to live in Chernobyl even after the catastrophe, and Our Daily Bread (2005), unveiling the truth about modern technologies of food production.
Shot in Argentina, Bulgaria, Japan and the U.S., Homo Sapiens (2016) is made in the director’s signature “no comment” manner, offering an impersonal view on the subject matter. The long, static scenes of Homo Sapiens record abandoned architectural or natural spaces: a former airport, a half-ruined cathedral, and overgrown railways. Accompanied by natural and technical noises reminiscent of computers or printing machines, these ruins of human activity look both dramatic and poetic, creating a sublime image of culture and, implicitly, of its creator—the thinking man.
Dir. Nikolaus Geyrhalter. Switzerland, Austria, Germany, 2016.