A Year in an English Garden: Flicker + Pulse

And here I was thinking that this week’s scatological doc Poop Talk was going to be the most pointless release of the year.

I’m still trying to make heads or tails out of A Year in an English Garden: Flicker + Pulse.  Originally packaged and aired as a BBC nature special, this documentary is light on substance and heavy on time-lapse footage.  In fact, most – if not all of the film – consists of sped-up video chronicling the change of seasons in a picturesque Sussex garden while anonymous narration informs the audience about cycles;  as if the film wasn’t heavy-handed enough.

Time-lapse can be used to great effect, such as when filmmakers or television shows use the footage as a bumper between scenes.  It’s a technique best used in small doses to show viewers the passing of time in a way that’s visually marvellous.  While A Year in an English Garden: Flicker + Pulse gives minuscule activity a larger scope, directors Brian McClave and Tom Wichelow indulge too much.  They perceive time-lapse as a way to educate, but are later seduced by the style.  Their filmmaking makes the effect unremarkable and becomes such an onslaught, that they make a 58-minute “feature” feel excruciatingly long.

Part of me wants to give McClave and Wicklow’s film the benefit of a doubt with a marginal recommendation to patient gardeners who might appreciate this sneak peek, but even they’re going to find this documentary to be overkill.


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