Review: ‘Way of Nature’

Observes an incongruously old-school type of living-off-the-land with no commentary and a surfeit of ravishing visuals.

Like recent U.S. release “Sweetgrass,” Nina Hedenius’ “Way of Nature” observes an incongruously old-school type of living-off-the-land with no commentary and a surfeit of ravishing visuals. Result, which records a year’s cycle of work, birth and death on a very traditional Swedish farm, is a quietly enchanting document that will find favor with specialized tube and other programmers.

Only end titles reveal the true nature of Karl Gustav Hedling’s inherited farmstead. Until then, we might well be watching the agricultural operations a century or two ago, allowing for infrequent glimpses of up-to-the-moment pasteurizing or other technology. For the most part, however, the amiable, bearish Hedling and hired hands do things the old way, from hand-rolling cheese to making fences from branches. Pic doesn’t shy away from the earthier aspects of livestock tending, whether it’s shoveling animal wastes or encouraging horse copulation. But the pic’s overall tenor leans toward the lyrical, with wry notes struck by both man and beast (particularly Hedling’s unflappable dogs). Pre-existing music is sparingly used in a modest but exquisite production package.

Way of Nature

Sweden

Production

A Film i Dalama and SVT presentation of a Nina Hedenius Film production. Produced by Hedenius. Co-producer, Ingemar Persson. Directed by Nina Hedenius.

Crew

Camera (color, DV to digiBeta), Hedenius; editors, Ulf Neidemar, Hedenius. Reviewed at San Francisco Film Festival (competing), April 25, 2010. (Also in Vancouver Film Festival.) Running time: 107 MIN.

With

Karl Gustav Hedling.
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