Film Review: LEANING INTO THE WIND (UK/Germany 2016) ***

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Leaning Into the Wind: Andy Goldsworthy Poster

Leaning into the Wind follows artist Andy Goldsworthy on his exploration of the world and himself through ephemeral and permanent workings on the landscape, cities and with his own body.


Note: The Film Review reveals the film’s last scene, which could be considered a spoiler even though the film is a documentary.  Skip the last paragraph (in bold italics) of the review if you do not wish to read it.

Leaning into the Wind follows artist Andy Goldsworthy on his exploration of the layers of his world and the impact of the years on himself and his art.  This is director Riedelsheimer’s second film on Goldsworthy, his first called RIVERS AND TDES, made 16 years prior.  As Goldsworthy introduces his own body into the work it, becomes at the same time even more fragile and personal and also sterner and tougher, incorporating massive machinery and crews on his bigger projects. 

Before watching this doc or reading the review, a few things need be known about the artist Andy Goldsworthy.  Information following in this paragraph is taken from Wikipedia.  Goldsworthy is a British sculptor, photographer and environmentalist producing site-specific sculpture and land art situated in natural and urban settings.  He lives and works in Scotland.  

Goldsworthy produced a commissioned work for the entry courtyard of San Francisco’s De Young Museum called “Drawn Stone”, which echoes San Francisco’s frequent earthquakes and their effects.  His installation included a giant crack in the pavement that broke off into smaller cracks, and broken limestone, which could be used for benches. The smaller cracks were made with a hammer adding unpredictability to the work as he created it.  Goldsworthy is represented by Galerie Lelong, New York and Paris.  The materials used in Andy Goldsworthy’s art often include brightly coloured flowers, icicles, leaves, mud, pinecones, snow, stone, twigs, and thorns. Goldsworthy is generally considered the founder of modern rock balancing.  For his ephemeral works, Goldsworthy often uses only his bare hands, teeth, and found tools to prepare and arrange the materials; however, for his permanent sculptures he has also employed the use of machine tools. 

One assumes Riedelsheimer has introduced his subject in his first doc and that audiences might be familiar with as there is not much in this doc that goes into the background and history of Godsworthy the man.  His influences on being a farmer is never mentioned, neither on how his art is financed or how his art came to be famous.  But his fascination with working in the fields and rocks are acknowledged in the sculptor’s own words. The film also takes the audience through different countries like the U.S, Scotland and Franc to show him his work.  It is fortunate that a doc is made when the artist is still alive as in this film, as much more insight can be obtained from the artist himself interviewed, that Riedelsheimner utilities a great deal than from words from the relatives and friends.

The doc also shows Goldsworthy as an eccentric.  Any artist that fills his mouth with coloured petals only to spew them out and photograph it art would be described as a little different.

The film shows in some detail the creation of one of his works entitled “Roof”, working.with his assistant and five British dry-stone wallers, who were used to make sure the structure could withstand time and nature.

The film ends appropriately in the climax where Goldsworthy lets himself lean into the wind as he lets the wind support him on a mountain slope.  It is a comical image with him trying not to fall. To him, that is the perfect emotion – LEANING INTO THE WIND and suspended in a beautiful moment.


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