28.02.2018

‘Leaning Into the Wind’: arthouse cinema to put a smile on your face

Text: Reto Baer

Leaning Into the Wind – Andy Goldsworthy isn't just an excellent documentary – it’ll also put a smile on your face. The British artist’s aesthetic interventions are as playful as they are liberating. This film is a must-watch, says our critic Reto Baer.


Andy Goldsworthy makes his living by doing the sorts of things kids typically get up to in the woods with pinecones, pebbles and leaves. Okay, that might be putting it a little too crudely. The Brit is an artist – a land artist, to be exact. This movement developed towards the end of the sixties and involves works created in and using nature. Some can last centuries, others vanish in just a few minutes: for example, the floating spiral of icicles created by a numb-fingered Goldsworthy in his first film Rivers and Tides, 17 years ago. That's long gone, of course, but it’s precisely these fragile, ephemeral works that give the second film its charm.

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German filmmaker Thomas Riedelsheimer, who was once again responsible for direction, cinematography and editing, named the documentary Leaning Into the Wind – Andy Goldsworthy. The title comes from a scene in which Goldsworthy attempts to brace himself against a gale – a task which involves leaning at an angle to the wind without falling over. Almost all of this exceptional artist’s works involve the search for this invisible point of equilibrium, whether through the medium of heavy stones or delicate pollen.

‘I’m still just trying to make sense of the world.’

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Andy Goldsworthy (left) and director Thomas Riedelsheimer.

‘It’s difficult to express precisely what I want to say,’ Goldsworthy explains in the film. ‘I think when I was younger, I simply worked with nature; I made these sculptures. Now I think that nature is everywhere; you don’t even need to mention it. If I work in a city, I’m working with nature. If I work with myself, I’m working with nature. It’s no longer so clear. Basically, I’m still just trying to make sense of the world.’

‘Nature is everywhere; you don’t even need to mention it.’

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What’s surprising is how happy it makes you to watch him at it. This is partly down to the beautiful, poetic images and Fred Frith’s excellent music, but equally to Goldsworthy himself. There’s something liberating about the 61-year-old artist’s eccentricity as he struggles laboriously through a hedge instead of simply using the pavement beside it. It functions as a call to leave behind the usual daily grind and find adventure right outside your own front door.

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Filming one of Goldsworthy’s creations before the wind blows the yellow leaves away.

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Why walk beside the hedge when you could simply walk through it?

So if you suddenly run into a trail of leaves on the steps that lead from Zurich main station’s ShopVille to the Bahnhofstrasse, you’ll know that somebody’s been watching Leaning Into the Wind. The same goes if you see someone lying down on Sechseläutenplatz as it begins to rain, before standing up again a few minutes later to delightedly observe their dry silhouette slowly become wet and vanish. Don’t stay mystified – buy a cinema ticket and treat yourself to 93 minutes of happiness.

‘Leaning Into the Wind’ is playing in the following Zurich cinemas:

Arthouse Movie
Arthouse Le Paris


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