I’m not usually one for scenes of awkward tension—even Craig Ferguson could pull those off with his guests on a regular basis—but the extent to which Archipelago (2010) is infused with repressed energy is quite astounding, even including the almost always static camera. It’s interesting how the film uses its vast landscape shots in relation to this repressed energy.
The discourses on art by painter Christopher (Christopher Baker) are a heavy-handed metadiscourse on the film itself, while the landscape works against the characters, externalizing the repression of British cultural mores and sublimating them into the overbearing scenery and bleak weather. Each shot is held just long enough to make the viewer start to feel restless. It could be worse—The Judge (2014) matches its emotional climax with a storm out of nowhere, whereas here the winds rise every night—but it could also be better: Terrence Malick and Andrei Tarkovsky imbue their scenes of nature with an ethereal otherness, a non-intersectionality, reminding us that the film camera is not by design a tool to capture human states and interactions alone. True beauty is alien.