August 20, 2014
Chasing meteorite chasers all over the US
For the Herald
El color que cayó del cielo is a road movie with unexpected angles
Whatever happened to El Chaco, the second largest meteorite in the world weighing over 37 tons that landed on Earth some 4,000 years ago? What about El Mesón de Fierro, which weighs over 60 tons and is the largest meteorite in the world?
These are some of the questions at the heart of El color que cayó del cielo (The Colour Falling From The Sky), the second documentary written, directed and produced by Sergio Wolf, a film critic, theoretician, professor and former director of the BAFICI, whose 2003 debut film co-directed with Lorena Muñoz, Yo no sé qué me han hecho tus ojos, a brilliant documentary of the famed tango singer Ada Falcón, was embraced by critics and general audiences alike.
Though the questions that trigger Wolf’s feature have no conclusive answers, the investigation on such an unusual topic is conducted in so exhaustive a manner that a few minutes into the film you become aware of the fact that what really matters is taking the trip, and not arriving at the final destination.
Call it a meteoritic road movie, if you will, and you’d be right.
Beginning at Campo del Cielo, Chaco, Argentina, and then travelling to Pittsburgh and Tucson, US, Wolf goes after meteorite experts who provide some interesting angles on the whole affair. You soon realize there are so many unexpected revelations behind the existence of something as prosaic as a meteorite that you may feel like starting your own private research.
As far as the testimonies go, on the one hand there’s Professor William Cassidy, whose approach is scientific.
On the other hand, there’s Robert Haag, a millionaire “businessman” (more of a dealer, actually) known as “The Meteorite Man.” But it’s not only about scientific or commercial fare, as the importance of the myths and legends about meteorites is also taken into account quite seriously.
One great finding at the very beginning of the film is a handful of scenes from La Nación Oculta en el Meteorito, a film about the Mocovi indigenous tribe shot by Juan Carlos Martínez, a Mocovi native himself.
So what you get to see, as Wolf rightfully stated, is their story as seen by themselves, not by outsiders.
With Wolf’s voice-over as a precise guide, some appealing stock footage from decades ago, a stunningly restrained yet most expressive cinematography by Fernando Lockett, El color que cayó del cielo largely succeeds at neatly interconnecting different angles and characters associated with the universe of meteorites, and in so doing a canvas of rich colours is drawn.
Other filmmakers would have probably gone for an exclusively analytical, solemn approach that would supposedly do justice to science, statistics and figures. But Wolf knows better, and instead of focusing solely on the meteorites, he opts to mostly cover the ground trod by all those interested, fascinated and mesmerized by meteorites.
El color que cayó del cielo is about those involved in the phenomenon, not so much about the object that causes it. It’s about very singular individuals that you would want to meet personally if you had the chance.
BAMA movie theatre
El color que cayó del cielo (Argentina, 2014). Written, directed and produced by Sergio Wolf. Cinematography by Fernando Lockett. Editing by Alejandro Carrillo Penovi. Music by Gabriel Chwojnik. Sound design by Emilio Iglesias, Rodrigo Sanchez Mariño, La Burbuja Sonido, Martín Grignaschi. Executive producer: Gabriel Kameniecki. Running time: 73 minutes.