Three segments depicting the life cycle of a freighter boat.
Three segments depicting the life cycle of a freighter boat.
God, as was popularly believed by deists in the Enlightenment, can be thought of like a distant mechanist. He creates the universe in the beginning to be self-propelling machine, and then goes off elsewhere while we are left to our own devices. All the while His creation tiks and toks and whizzes and whirls until it is the end of time, at which point He returns to retire his worn-down clock.
And so we too, can be God, at least in our own capacity. At Sea outlines the history of a freighter boat as it chugs across the world, carrying out the needs of its human creators until it is old and ornery and no longer useful to us. It…
It's hard to think of another filmmaker who's as committed when it comes to capturing portraits of city and landscape in all of their poetic grandeur. He's not limited to that though. At Sea, one of Hutton's best and most ambitious films, is a highly engaging chronicle of the birth, life, and death of a mammoth container ship. At least on surface. Metaphorically, it's a haunting meditation on human progress and environmental crises.
Charting a three year passage, the film is split into three parts: birth, life, and death. Each part follows a different ship: first we see a ship being constructed in South Korea, then a container ship out in the ocean, and finally an a ship being taken…
This is easily one of the most essential films of the century so far, composed in perfection, beauty in every frame. The middle portion of the film, in which we're actually at sea is by far one of my very favorite extended sequences in all of cinema, but then the portion that follows, a curveball act of vital decontextualization, serves to bring At Sea to a level beyond the purely affective & sublime and into that of the necessarily empathic & human. And it is absolutely divine.
One of the most gorgeously observant, patient, and vital films ever made
this and a blunt
Sound is taken for granted in the media of today. But many an old-world curmudgeon has gone on record concluding cinema died at the advent of the talkie. This is old hat. What could be most interesting about sound in cinema now is what happens upon its experimental negation.
The films of Peter Hutton are designed for theatrical exhibition in complete silence. His first few decades of output, for all its composed, painterly, often hauntingly abstract images, lacks a certain formal etiquette, the likes of which I've always admired about, say, Benning, and one can't help but wonder if the added dimension of sound may have brought those films back from the passive photo-album impression they transmit.
With At Sea,…
Le cinéma méditatif d'Hutton est un cinéma d'échelle et ce à plusieurs niveaux (figuratifs et symboliques). Ici, sa façon de jouer avec la grandeur du bateau, cette coque immense et ces minuscules silhouettes humaines. Et puis il y a la vie en mer et l'humain ne se manifeste qu'à travers des essuies-glaces, face à une mosaïque de conteneurs colorés. Le 3e et dernier segment, l'envers ou l'écho du premier. Et l'humanité semble exploser. Le bateau n'est plus qu'un cadavre qu'on dépèce, et on ne peut que ressentir de l'empathie pour lui, objet inanimé, et aussi pour ces hommes dont on discerne les visages, les sourires, qui travaillent en haillons, qui jouent au foot ou, quand la caméra est là, se…
This is a film that could have as easily been named the uncertainty principal as the prevention of actuality by the camera seems the center theme of this tale. The film, about the building and voyages of a Korean cargo ship, is extremely similar to the work of Wang Bing with two major differences. The first and most obvious is the lack of sound leaving the film haunting and dispassionate like a ghost story. The second and less immediately obvious is the lack of political theme.
Really there's a lack of any human theme with the movie scored entirely toward observation without obstruction; something that the humans just prevent. In the early portion of the film where people are present…
Whereas I had previously watched this with an improvised cobbled-together playlist, this time I sat ensconced in the silences and let the power of Hutton's images alone win me over.
This time was a far stronger experience.
this is how we decompress.
Added to: Peter B. Hutton Ranked
Like a slowly, silently decaying iron whale, Hutton shows the lifecycle of a grand container ship. From its birth among ant-sized men, his endless voyage among pristine blue waters, eventually ending up on a solemn beach amongst other cadavers, waiting to be plucked apart. It is monumental in its setup and its steady cinematography which gives the massive vehicle a truly impressive sense of gravity on the silent screen. It almost creates a sense of magic in how unusually it is photographed and put together. At first glance it seems like a whole redundant film, but near the end it feels like you've actually seen a part of life. A mystical, perhaps unmoving but still very densely layered portrait of a random ship, which eventually tells a lot about the world it inhabited. To call this unique would be a grand understatement!
“God does not build in straight lines” Charlie Holloway (Prometheus, 2012)
This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
"every frame a painting" has always been a weird term for me (as well as an overrated youtube channel, but that's besides the point). sure, composition is something that both film and paintings have in common, but what separates them is the obvious gift of movement and the underrated gift of progression. and these are the two things at sea gets perfectly: movement and progression. it's not simply the implication that's evocative here, it's the action, the reality of the process. the zooms in and out, the activity of the people, who are either enlarged or shrunk by their environments, and the static of the sea complimented by the still frame of the ship. it's amazing how peter hutton is…
Can't believe I watched this for 4 days because 8 mins into watching I'm already asleep
fuck wow, i cried. we're seeing a theme here with tears, huh
Also, staying quiet for an hour was a good thing for the heart- or maybe not, I'm having a crisis now- idk what i'm talking about. one day i'll breathe, sit back, let life slip by and write reviews about all the glorious stuff that i keep watching and how deeply they affect me. for now, it's just i cri, i die.
já tinha visto
Qué extraño pensar que una película sobre un carguero trasatlántico se pueda terminar tratando sobre los detalles que producen la gestación; sobre la libertad y el movimiento que vienen después de nacer, y sobre la decadencia y la rapiña que suceden al morir. Sin embargo Petter Hutton lo logra, y no meramente por montar juntas las tres etapas en la vida de la nave. Sus imágenes abstraen las formas y las geometrías de lo que debería ser simple, es decir, sabemos que en ellas vemos fragmentos del carguero, sin embargo los encuadres las convierten en mosaicos esotéricos. Entendemos y no entendemos, de tal modo que, por ejemplo, el cadáver inconmensurable al final de la película es claramente el barco que…
The sea is calm tonight
I just wasted one hour of my life watching the life cycle of a freighter boat.
And I loved it.
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