If it wasn’t already clear by the fact that we’re rapidly hurtling towards environmental catastrophe with each passing day, we really need to get back to nature. So it’s as good a time as ever for Becoming Animal, a new film co-directed by Emma Davie and Canadian iconoclast Peter Mettler, which seeks to get viewers to reconsider our connections with the world outside of our own heads.
Mettler is one of our best contemporary travelogue filmmakers and this time he journeys with Davie and philosopher David Abram, on whose book the film is based, to Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming to examine and try to eliminate the self-imposed divide between humans and the natural world. Abram is a much-lauded thinker who adheres to the concept of animism, the belief that plants, animals, natural phenomena and even man-made inanimate objects are all imbued with a soul and spiritual energy that we can connect with.
As the trio treks through the eye-poppingly gorgeous natural landscape, Abram explains how our bodies naturally want to feel the sensorial qualities of the world around us, if we can only let down the walls that we’ve constructed to deny it. Meanwhile, Davie and Mettler grapple with the conundrum of whether filmmaking itself has a place in this ideal state of natural connection, since so much of the development of technology has only served to reflect the human experience back to us, creating a desensitizing echo chamber.
Sure, this can all come off as some hippie-dippie stuff, but the tendency to automatically smirk is exactly the issue that Becoming Animal is getting at. Davie, Mettler and Abram have created one of the most entrancing and necessary cinematic experiences of the year – just open your mind and allow those deep-rooted instincts to take flight.