Veteran documentary maker Victor Kossakovsky comes back to big screen with his first feature length documentary since 2003’s Hush. Vivan Las Antipodas! takes us to an expedition to the different parts of the world. Documentary’s premise comes from the antipodes on Earth. Antipodes are places diametrically opposite of each other on Earth’s surface – a straight line drawn from one to the other will pass through centre of the planet. However both antipodes coinciding on dry land is a rare occasion because Earth is mostly covered by oceans.
Documentary starts with announcing these antipodes, they could not be any more different than each other. Firstly, We are taken to rural Entre Rios in Argentina, this is the part with most dialog, we meet with two brothers running a toll bridge over a river. Argentina’s stunning scenery gives a way to the noisy, smoky city of Shanghai in China. From here we jump to a sheep farmer in Patagonia in Chile then its antipode, mother and daughter at Lake Baikal in Russia. Contrast to all beautiful and fertile lands we’ve been introduced to so far we are suddenly left with constantly shifting black, barren, volcanic land of Big Island in Hawaii, couple of isolated families trying to go about their normal life. Its antipode is Botswana, with a slow pace of life could be interrupted anytime by presence of a lion family. Then we are taken to our last antipodes, Miraflores in Spain and Castle point in New Zealand. One is a rocky mountain top with butterflies hatching, the other one has a whale washed up dead onto its beach. These locations completed with ever changing beautiful soundtrack.
Stunningly shot, Vivan Las Antipodas! is more playful than BBC’s Planet Earth with the up-side down shots, spins and slides, pushing the idea of antipodes as far as it goes. Parts of the scenery presented at times like an abstract painting – not sure which way is the right way up. Locations become more and more integrated and somehow connected despite the vast distances between them. Whereabouts where we are becomes irrelevant, it becomes more about the experience of its inhabitants.
This skilfully shot evocative documentary by Kossakovsky is a master-class worth seeing.