Year Released: 2019, 2023 North American release
Runtime: 1h 27m
Director(s): Anna Sofie Hartmann
Writer(s): Anna Sofie Hartmann
Cast: Lisa Loven Kongsli, Jakub Gierszal, Maren Eggert
Language(s): Danish, Norwegian, Polish, English, German, and w/English Subtitles
Where To Watch: available exclusively on Film Movement Plus March 31, 2023
RAVING REVIEW: Anna Sofie Hartmann's GIRAFFE is an enchanting film that explores themes of upheaval, transformation, and the significance of memory. Set against the backdrop of a rural community on the Danish island of Lolland, this award-winning movie delves into the lives of residents grappling with the impending tunnel connecting Denmark and Germany.
As the landscape shifts and the locals give way to the workers, mainly from Poland, we are introduced to Dara, a Berlin ethnologist who arrives to document the community on the brink of change. Amid her work, Dara finds herself unexpectedly entangled in a romance with a young builder, adding emotional depth as they seek purpose in their disrupted lives.
GIRAFFE's cinematography captures the characters' connection to their surroundings, using skillfully composed shots to emphasize their bond with the land. These visuals enhance the personal narratives and emotions that unfold throughout the film, such as the moving tale of a couple forced to leave their home and the keepsakes left behind by Agnes, a woman whose life echoes through the walls of her soon-to-be-destroyed house.
The film's narrative transitions between a documentary-style exploration of the island's residents and Dara's journey as she becomes increasingly involved with Lucek, the Polish worker. Käthe, a ferry worker who crafts stories about the passengers she encounters, adds a fascinating layer to the film.
The film contrasts Dara's academic vacation on the island with the stark realities of Lucek and his fellow workers, who rely on their wages to support their families back home. The movie portrays the struggles of these individuals and the Danish farmers who must relinquish their homes, illustrating the personal toll of progress and development. GIRAFFE also examines the effects of globalization on the characters' lives.
As explained by the director, the giraffe's presence at the beginning in a safari park represents the dislocation and quest for a sense of home experienced by the film's characters and the broader themes of uprooting and displacement.
Hartmann's GIRAFFE is a rare film that is visually captivating and emotionally resonant, appealing to many. Its exploration of complex themes, such as the personal impact of global change, displacement, and the power of memory, is masterfully woven into the narrative, making it accessible to seasoned film enthusiasts and casual moviegoers.
The film's ability to artfully blend documentary-style storytelling with fictional elements alongside the characters' journeys results in a rich, multilayered narrative. This approach, combined with breathtaking cinematography and powerful performances, creates an immersive experience that invites viewers to reflect on the film's themes long after the movie has ended.
In conclusion, GIRAFFE is an extraordinary film that skillfully combines entertainment and introspection. With its captivating narrative, unforgettable visuals, and compelling themes, GIRAFFE is a film that will stay with you and inspire meaningful conversations about our world and the ever-changing nature of human connections.
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[film courtesy of FILM MOVEMENT]