Peasant Symphony

Peasant Symphony ★★★★

It's cinema ethnography created during the dangers of the war years (1944), yet Henri Storck and Maurice Delattre's film is still as sturdy/pulsing in contemporary viewing as the Brabant fields, livestock and farm community we're asked to study through each captured season, both in growth and in dying. The camera work here is exceptionally artful (which I mean in praise); I'm reminded of Ermanno Olmi's Tree of Wooden Clogs, although Henri Storck's paean to farm life may be even more primal, affecting an almost 19th-century Platinum Print look, a precision perhaps more necessary to Peasant Symphony's vast subject:

"All nature has a feeling: woods, fields, brooks
Are life eternal: and in silence they
Speak happiness beyond the reach of books;
There's nothing mortal in them; their decay
Is the green life of change; to pass away
And come again in blooms revivified.
Its birth was heaven, eternal is its stay,
And with the sun and moon shall still abide
Beneath their day and night and heaven wide.
---John Clare (1793-1864)