Fen Bridges 40 Feet to Vermuden's Drain to Great Ouse
country of production: Ireland
director: Ellen Sampson
© images: Fen Bridges: Fourty Foot of Vermuden's Drain to the Great Ouse (Ellen Sampson)
In the east of England, the Fenlands, a swamp area that has been drained and canalised since the late 18th century to make it usable for agriculture, are found. Dams surround the 4,000 km² area to protect it from flooding. Bridges connect it inside.
Separated by picture panels numbered chronologically, "Fen Bridges: Fourty Foot of Vermuden's Drain to the Great Ouse" shows 29 of these bridges in 29 fixed settings for about six to seven seconds each. The purely functional dimension of the bridge is gradually transcended when the repetitive character of the film reveals the separating and connecting aspects of the bridges. The bridge connects and at the same time inflicts violence on the eye, because it divides (beautiful) landscapes.
In "Fen Bridges" it becomes a symbol of reclamation. In drainage and cultivation, a structurless land is transformed into a grid. The canals divide the land into individual agricultural areas, the bridges connect this previously undivided land with each other.
In the clear separation of the land-connecting bridges, the panels in the film assume a similar function to the bridges themselves. On the one hand, they divide into chapters, but at the same time they connect by creating a connection through the chronology. The monotony created by this construction then reflects the monotony of today's once wild landscape. As dull and flat as "Fen Bridges" may seem at first glance, as the building Bridge itself may seem as a hoard of manifold metaphors, the film offers an immense depth of interpretation. In addition, one can simply let oneself fall into the wonderful images (shot on grainy film material) as if in summery grass.
This review was previously published in German on FilmGazette.de.Ricardo Brunn