Heartland -- Liminal: Indiana in the Anthropocene
Achingly gorgeous photography from across Indiana form the basis of this wordless documentary that speaks loudly about our natural bounty, and our responsibility to protect it.
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You might not think that an hour-long documentary consisting entirely of aerial photography from all across Indiana would be compelling, especially in the absence of any kind of narration. Anything but.
“Liminal: Indiana in the Anthropocene” is an achingly gorgeous film from director Zach Schrank, editor/cinematographer Aaron Yoder and musical composer Nate Utesch (aka Metavari). It’s a wordless documentary that nonetheless speaks loudly about Hoosiers’ natural county — and our duty to protect it.
We start with an arresting shot of a railway bridge cutting across an amazing vista of deep forest and waterways, all bathed in morning fog like a mantle. I’m pretty sure (via Googling) it’s the Tulip Viaduct in Greene County, and I’m surprised I haven’t encountered imagery of it after nearly two decades of living in Indiana. It’s practically a living postcard.
From there, we go on a meditative journey a few hundred feet above the state, from Downtown Indianapolis monuments to absolutely untouched old growth forests.
We’re nudged to look upon Indiana as a living organism, and this film is like an exacting scan of all its pumping parts and various morphology. Though “Liminal” is thorough in highlighting the state’s natural beauty, it’s also not afraid to look at some of the changes wrought upon the land by human intrusion — from strip mines to agricultural runoff ponds to dilapidated buildings standing sentry to mark the passing of time and enterprise lost.
The footage was captured entirely using drones by Indiana Aerials, and it’s incredibly smooth, professional work. It gives a very organic feel, as if we’re a bird flying over the state, exploring and peering.
The journey is assisted by Utesch’s beautiful techno music, mesmerizing beats and hums that register almost as vibration that accompanies us wherever we go.
Though there is no narration, sections are introduced with screen titles, essentially like chapters in a book. Rather than being purely informational, there’s an element of poetry to the curation. For example, extraction mining is labeled as “Terraform,” coal-fired power plants is “Combust,” automobile manufacturing is “Alchemy” and wind and solar farming is “Infinity.”
You may think those mammoth wind turbines you’ve probably driven by on the interstate are impressive from the ground, but wait till you see them at eye level as yawning, spinning titans sweeping powerfully over and over again.
“Liminal: Indiana in the Anthropocene” will leave you feeling thrilled, and sobered. It’s one thing to read articles about waste disposal or steel production, and quite another to see it happening from a bird’s-eye point of view. The filmmakers offer no judgement, just visual truth.
People often talk about needing to take a high-altitude perspective on something in order to really understand it. This amazing documentary does just that, a simple yet powerful look at all that Indiana has to offer.