Gambling, Gods and LSD, 2002

Peter Mettler’s rigorous and organic meditative essay is (perhaps intentionally) a mind numbing ethnographic collage of people, places, ideas, and discoveries that collective encompass humanity’s innate desire for escapism, commutation, euphoria, and existential transcendence. Originating locally from Mettler’s sad and implicitly tragic reunion with a childhood friend who has led most of his inutile adult life in the fog of substance abuse, the filmmaker visually links his roots (in the childhood memory of an idyllic river) with images of migration (in the milieu of the Toronto International Airport) to create an eclectic (and inherently uneven) assembly of personal experience: what Mettler describes as the state of people – at times, rapturous (as members of a religious congregation exhibit episodes of spasmodic spiritual ecstasy), decadent (as people indulge in gambling, strip clubs, and sexual paraphernalia), thrill-seeking (a newly married couple punctuate their wedding vows with a bungee jump), inexplicable (a crowd gathers for the controlled implosion of a disused casino), melancholic (a man recalls his late wife’s death from cancer as he displays her remains contained in a headscarf that she had worn while in chemotherapy), tragic (a mass murder on a Native American reservation), and bewildering (a small village in rural India reacts to the curious spectacle of a camera crew) – but all idiosyncratically, fundamentally, and infallibly human.

© Acquarello 2004. All rights reserved.