The Sky Trembles and the Earth is Afraid and the Two Eyes Are Not Brothers

Throughout the course of The Sky Trembles…, Ben Rivers seems far more interested in constructing the film as a series of discrete events than in making them work as a cohesive whole. The overall structure does work, following the descent of a filmmaker (Oliver Laxe, playing himself) in two neat halves, but from scene to scene it becomes monotonous, as Rivers never quite repeats himself but doesn’t establish a clear sense of progression. Even as the film gets truly bizarre in the second half, where Oliver is forced to dance while wearing a suit covered in cans and lids, only the subtly off-kilter shots and the occasional entry of the droning electronic score offer a strong stimulus to the viewer. The rest of The Sky Trembles… is stuck in observational mode, distancing the viewer from the subjects, especially the native people, though of course this is not necessarily a bad thing, and Rivers uses it to a strong degree.

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