onsdag 17 mars 2010
A lot of us out there in this world are people who long for something else but never really get to the point of doing exactly what we really want, for many different reasons of course. It can be that the goal is too farfetched to reach or that we just are too scared to go there, settling for what we have. Whatever the reason is, here is a documentary that just might inspire you a bit. And if it doesnt, it is still a warm portrait of a man who left our industrialised world behind to go exactly where he wanted and do what was in his heart.
Alone in the wilderness is the story of Richard Proenneke who at the age of 52 decided to quit his job as a mechanic and retired to Twin lakes in Alaska, an area in the middle of the wilderness. He spent a year in a borrowed cabin cutting down trees and making logs, then returning the next summer building a cabin of his own. He spent the next 30 years up there alone with mother nature, only returning to civilization in 1999 at the age of 82 when he decided that the -40 celcius winter temperatures were a bit too much to withstand. During all these years he filmed a lot of his life with a 16mm colour camera and we get to follow him as he builds his cabin and lives his life in solitude. It is truly a fascinating journey to watch Proenneke manufacture all the tools he needs himself (with the exception of some metal parts), build a cabin all by himself along with all the furniture he needs and growing a small garden to sustain himself. He does get supplies from time to time from a friend with an airplane, but mostly he is all by himself. All this is narrated by a big drone of a voice that suits the proceedings well, with lots of grainy 16mm footage of the area. I think the 16mm footage is something that adds an extra edge to the whole thing, since it's far from the perfect HD images of your average National Geographic documentary. It gets more personal, which is as it should be.
You cant help but to be impressed by Richard Proenneke and the life he provides for himself, especially after you see the view from his cabin window. Twin lakes is a marvelous place and although I realize that I am not cut out for that kind of life, I still envy him - both for his strength in achieving what he wanted and for a life without bills, subwaytrains, internet and promoting synergy. Proenekke was truly the perfect individual for this kind of venture. The documentary is fairly short, just about an hour, but there are two "sequels" called Alaska - Silence and solitude and The Frozen north, both of which I have not seen. Yet. There is also a book: One Man's Wilderness: An Alaskan Odyssey, which I am going to track down and read. Proenneke was a fascinating man (He passed away in 2003 at the age of 86) and he gives us all inspiration, if its just the fact that it actually is possible to achieve what you want.