Homo Sapiens, directed by Nickolaus Geyrhalter, is a profoundly depressing meditation on the possible end of human civilisation. There is no human presence in the film, no people are seen, there's no dialogue and no voice-over. The static cameras show us various abandoned sites including theatres, places of worship, settlements, fun fairs, medical facilities and offices. There are no subtitles to give context or to tell us where the sites are. The only sounds are wind, rain, birds and insects, the only movement is that of birds, or things being moved by the wind.
The lack of voice-over or other context allows the viewer to imagine the story behind each site - why was this place abandoned? In some cases it seems clear - the funfair drowning in the rising tides, the settlement abandoned to the encroaching sands, the nuclear installation abandoned after a nuclear catastrophe, the buildings destroyed by war, but others are much less obvious. I found myself wondering why didn't people go back and salvage the materials from these offices? Why haven't they demolished the structures and replaced them? It's just so much loss of potential for the buildings and for the land they stand on.
In some cases nature has started to reclaim the buildings. Even so, however beautiful it is to see ferns growing over an abandoned village, doves flying in and out of an abandoned tower or birds of prey circling over cooling towers, I was left mostly with a sense of despondence.
This is the end of human civilisation.
Homo Sapiens is showing as part of the Edinburgh International Film Festival:
2055, 23 June and 1305, 25 June both at Cineworld.
You can read my other reviews from this year's film festival by following the links below:
The Olive Tree.
Death is Only the Beginning - my review of The Correspondence and The Library Suicides.
The Islands and the Whales.
Hunt for the Wilderpeople.
Bugs - are insects the food of the future?
Disclaimer: I have a press pass for the Edinburgh International Film Festival and attended free press screenings of these films