One of the most intriguing and awe-inspiring aspects of the documentary “Rivers and Tides,” by German filmmaker Thomas Riedelsheimer, is the beauty wrapped in the fluidity of making one’s paintbrush the natural environment. This film focuses on the artistic works and interpretations of Scotsman Andy Goldsworthy as he details his inspiration found in the flows and lines of rivers and tides.
Mother Nature’s art is best showcased in “Rivers and Tides” when Goldsworthy uses almost an effortless approach to engaging the environment for aesthetic purpose. In the film, his artistic media include a collection of rocks forming a cone shape, a spider web of twigs hanging from a lone country tree and the whirlpool effect created with driftwood.
Another inviting concept in the film is a reflection of time created through art. For those looking for fast action, be warned that there are segments deeply focused on the sometimes slow learning process of the artist. At one point Goldsworthy tells the cameraperson to stop filming. The camera continues to roll, focusing on his work with stones. The cinematography is important to understanding the intertwining of nature and art in Goldsworthy’s work. Time is in constant ebb and flow as the camera spans through long takes. Success as well as his failures in constructing his pieces is meaningful to the conception and construct of time. While at his Scottish farm he makes it clear that being in the place that you love, watching the seasons change, gives you a true sense of how the world evolves.
There is a growing bond and sense of trust between filmmaker Riedelsheimer and Goldsworthy, having spent more than a year working together on the documentary. Goldsworthy provides the only narration where he reveals incredibly personal anecdotes about his life and his art. Sweeping silences and musical interludes also help to reveal the eccentricities of a creative mind in constant motion.
At points in the film, one might be hesitant to see Goldsworthy as a tree-hugging hippie spouting off about the philosophic connection between the human body, nature and art. However, it takes but a moment to see Goldsworthy’s art as stunning and his commentary as articulate in every way.
For Goldsworthy there is a deeply physical, one-on-one relationship forged between the artist and his potential site. He states, “I’ve shook hands with the place,” as he takes in the beauty of his natural surroundings. Indeed, he uses only his bare hands when working on his art.
The film’s colors are particularly outstanding, creating magnificent lines of deeply hued beauty. Goldsworthy’s ability to eye Mother Nature as one giant, prospective canvas makes one wish hope that all the world saw as much potential in their very own backyard. Perhaps next time walking on the beach, you’ll be inspired to pick up a few lazy pieces of driftwood and create your own nature-made whirlpool.