Under Snow (Unter Schnee)

Under Snow is a documentary interspersed with a fable. The documentary works, the fable doesn't.

Under Snow is a movie made with a mix of two forms of cinema. The first is a documentary that shows the lifestyle of the people of Echigo, a mountainous region of Japan that experiences snow for six months in a year. The director does well to capture the life of the people who have learned to live with the extreme weather condition. But the director misses the better side of it: examining their basic lifestyle, or how they perform the simplest of tasks that are affected by the cold. Instead, we see New Year rituals, how they make crepe fabric, etc. This is interspersed with a fable that originates from the same place. Enacted by traditional Kabuki performers in their trademark exaggerated style, it tells the tale of a man who marries a fox (in the form of a human girl), their wanderings, their death and their son. This part of the story is completely amiss, as it has little relevance to the Echigo people, and in fact, even shifts the focus away to a remote gold-mining island. It would have worked better if this movie was purely a documentary focused on one aspect only, the lives of the Echigo people, much like Our Daily Bread, a documentary that played at DIFF in 2006.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

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About Shariq Madani

Shariq is a social, talkative, fun-loving guy who enjoys books, food and a long drive. But his real joy is in the comfortable darkness of a cinema, watching a good movie, and later spending hours discussing it.