Big River Man

Rough Notes

  • The subject matter of the work
  • Why do you think it was produced?
  • Is it influenced by any other genres?
  • Who is the audience? How do you know?
  • Relevant Film Language, Mise en scene or semiotics
  • Sound if present
  • Modes of Address or approaches used
  • Comparison on the techniques used in other documentary practice addressing the same topic

The subject matter of the work

An extraordinary film of the story of Martin Strell swimming the 3,274 mile Amazon from Chile to the coast of Brazil. Winner of Sundance, Best Cinematography award 2009.

First half is slow paced gradually building to a descent into literal madness of not only the eponymous hero but of those close to him. A real life, cross between Forest Gump’s obsessional running across the USA and Martin Sheen’s character in Apocalypse Now. There are  tragic-comedic moments and unintentional surrealism (swimming with the flower). He suffered larval infection, hallucinations and hypertension overlaying functional alcoholism. The extraordinary disconnect between fans/onlookers, the  juxtaposition of environmental messages (deforestation for beef farming) and mental obsession. The parallels of the madness of cutting down the rain forest and his deteriorating mental health are coupled .

 

Told in strict date order. Perhaps flash backs would have have been less torturous and maintained a better pace.

 

Stand out moments

  • Swimming with the flower.
  • Priest in the room who turned out to be a puppeteer.
  • The band playing “at”him  in the room while appearing catatonic.
  • His moments of self destruction swimming off into the dark.
  • The sun mask.
  • Substance abuse.
  • The son giving the statement to his father in the ambulance when he was catatonic.
  • Jump leads attached to his head.
  • Editing and cinematography.

For more than two months Mr. Strel, then 53, and his retinue — along with the director John Maringouin — churned through 3,274 miles of river on an adventure that crossed national and psychological borders and often seemed downright absurd if not entirely pointless. – Manohla Dargis, New York Times

An odd and irresistible documentary about Slovenian strongman Martin Strel and his quest, at 52, to be the first man to swim 5,268 kilometers of the Amazon River. – Liam Lacey, Globe and Mail

The real drama lies in the sweetly twisted symbiosis between this likable, infuriating wreck of a man and his devoted son and publicist. – Ella Taylor, Village Voice

 

Why do you think it was produced?

  • Self promotion
  • Sponsorship money ?? Atlantis
  • Promote the message of enviromentalism.

Who is the audience? How do you know?

director John Maringouin — churned through 3,274 miles of river on an adventure that crossed national and psychological borders and often seemed downright absurd if not entirely pointless. – Manohla Dargis, New York Times

An odd and irresistible documentary about Slovenian strongman Martin Strel and his quest, at 52, to be the first man to swim 5,268 kilometers of the Amazon River. – Liam Lacey, Globe and Mail

The real drama lies in the sweetly twisted symbiosis between this likable, infuriating wreck of a man and his devoted son and publicist. – Ella Taylor, Village Voice

?????

Relevant Film Language, Mise en scene or semiotics

cinematography sound editing

Winner Sundance 2009 Best Cinematographer award

Colour/objects

Modes of Address or approaches used

 

Comparison on the techniques used in other documentary practice addressing the same topic

 

Touching the void

Other films: David Walliams, Thames, Eddie Izzard Marathon Running

 

Quotes 

Bojut Strell 

“He swam to protect the rain forest but nobody knew what that meant.”

“No one could reach him, not even me”

“Christlike”

Martin Strell

“Give me something to drink. Whiskey ..I am drinking this for the doctor”.

Matthew Mohlke

“Last World  Superhero”- (complete with a mask as well).

“This is Heaven and this is Hell”

 

 

LP- Don’t judge a film by it’s first hour. Consider pace.

 

 

 

 

 

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