The tree we first watch collapsing to the floor of its ever-dwindling forest is well-miked, so we’re sure to hear the sound it makes when it falls.
But first we hear the panting lumberjack approach and pull-start his chainsaw. He’s joined by several others, and soon the logs they’ve accumulated require specialized heavy machinery to stack. Considering there’s not a beach in sight, this isn’t the most obvious beginning for a documentary called Coast of Death, video-installation artist Lois Patiño’s latest feature-length film. But the title is both a reference to a particularly rugged portion of the rocky Spanish Galician coast, and also to the destruction of that ecosystem as humans harvest its natural resources.
These humans, miked at least as well as that doomed tree, never get their close-ups, whether they’re chopping wood or digging shellfish out of a shallow ocean bed, forcing us to always view them in a more realistically tiny context, cosmically speaking. Photographer Carla Andrade’s lingering shots of grandiose landscapes dwarfing the fishermen, lumberjacks, quarrymen, and others who constitute the closest thing to characters in Coast of Death leave little doubt as to the real balance of power in man’s ongoing efforts to subjugate nature, but Patiño’s vision never expands to the panic-inducing scope of Godfrey Reggio’s Koyaanisqatsi—another beautifully shot examination of breathtaking ecosystems jeopardized by the human ego.
Where Koyaanisqatsi largely depicted man’s impact on a corporate scale, Patiño keeps his camera just close enough to capture interactions on an individual level, where nature doesn’t seem nearly so out of balance that it can’t be tipped back to equilibrium. A few nasty-looking forest fires flare up for example, but we never see who or what is starting them—just the brave people, often no bigger than ants on the screen, risking their lives to put the fires out.
(Original article from Good Mag)