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A Spell to Ward Off the Darkness
Directed by Ben Rivers and Ben Russell • 2013 • France, Estonia, Germany
Starring Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe
Less a film in the traditional sense than an incantatory induction into the sublime, this utterly unclassifiable collaboration between boundary-pushing experimentalists Ben Rivers and Ben Russell finds transcendence in the elemental forces of earth, water, and doom metal. Through three episodes, we follow a man (played by musician Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe) in search of present-day utopia, first as a member of a commune on an Estonian island, then alone in the majestic wilderness of northern Finland, and finally as the singer of a neopagan black-metal band in Norway. Blending documentary, ethnography, and narrative into a 16 mm monument of trance-state cinema, Rivers and Russell tap into something mythic, eternal, and totally overpowering.