English/Swedish/Finnish w/English subtitles
Director: Michael Madsen
The premise of the documentary Into Eternity is that it is serving as a film for generations far into the future, explaining that since they have found the film, they are now in a dangerous place, which are tunnels in Finland that house nuclear waste. The project will span almost two centuries, after which the tunnels will be sealed and left alone. The film explores what would happen if, 100,000 years from now, people would discover the tunnels and tries to explain why they're doing this through interviews with various scientists.
Realizing the subject matter of Into Eternity is serious, it was still incredibly over dramatic. Madsen goes for style and it manifests itself in a lot of slow motion: people walking in slow motion, people working in slow motion. It made the pacing absolutely excruciating, because a scene that would, frankly, have been boring in real time was suddenly dragged out to more than four times its normal length.
Madsen decided to provide captions for everything and everybody, even during the overused "aria by female opera singer dramatic moment". Here's the kicker: Everyone spoke perfect English. In fact, better English than some people I know, and myself after drinking too many Diet Cokes. I was absolutely astonished that they were captioned, and instead of being an aid to the audience, I found it to be completely distracting, because despite the fact that I could understand every word they were saying, my eyes were still drawn to the captions. And, in another attempt to be stylish, Madsen gave us many shots of interviewees just looking straight at the camera, or fidgeting and saying nothing. My suggestion to Madsen is that if he's going to rip off Errol Morris, he should also realize that Morris uses these techniques to great effect for the stories he's telling.
Clearly, there was not a lot of content to the film and Madsen attempt to mask this, but in general, got it all wrong. At one point, there was a dramatic shot of a moose defecating in the woods. Seriously, that was it. No lead in, no lead out, no relevance. We were just entertained with a moose shitting in the woods. There was so much padding in the film, it could have been edited down without removing any of the interview footage, and it would have made a perfectly fine 45 minute documentary for television. Madsen struck me, however, as a guy who is somewhat self-serving, both during his scenes in front of the camera and some of the inflections in his narration.
I've watched many documentaries before with subject matter I wasn't remotely interested in, yet I ended up not only impressed with the film, but informed as well. Into Eternity was not one of those films, unfortunately, and since I wasn't expecting anything to start with, ended up being a major disappointment.
MFF Ballot Rating: 2 out of 5