The End Of Time
Switzerland/Canada / 2012 / 110 minutes
Working at the limits of what can easily be expressed, filmmaker Peter Mettler takes on the elusive subject of time, and once again turns his camera to filming the unfilmmable in The End Of Time.
From the particle accelerator in Switzerland, where scientists seek to probe regions of time we cannot see, to lava flows in Hawaii which have overwhelmed all but one home on the south side of Big Island; from the disintegration of inner city Detroit, to a Hindu funeral rite near the place of Buddha’s enlightenment, Mettler explores our perception of time. He dares to dream the movie of the future while also immersing us in the wonder of the everyday.
The End of Time is at once personal, rigorous and visionary. Peter Mettler has crafted a film as compelling and magnificent as its subject.
What is time? A reality? An illusion? A concept? These questions lie at the heart of Peter Mettler’s The End of Time.
In 1960 an American astronaut named Joe Kittinger jumps from a balloon at the edge of space. Although falling at the speed of sound, he feels suspended in time until he approaches the clouds and is returned to the context of earth. Before the opening credits are complete, Mettler has established the scope of The End of Time, which will offer perspectives at once cosmic and very human. Drawing from science, philosophy, religion and the personal, the film chronicles a journey into the nature of time, while bearing witness to this perilous period in the history of the planet.
Beginning at CERN, the particle accelerator in Switzerland, Mettler meets with scientists probing regions of time that we cannot see. By smashing particles together at almost the speed of light, these experiments hope to reproduce conditions just instants after the Big Bang. But the scientists are still not sure: is time real, or is it only a perception?
Back at home in Toronto, Mettler connects us to felt time, and the grace of its everyday passage, before continuing on to explore the island of Hawaii. Although the islands are comparatively young, the vastness of geological time is made manifest. Hot lava forms new land masses before our eyes. An awesome power, driven by “this engine called earth,” lava spares only a single home on the south shore of Big Island, inhabited by a man named Jack Thompson, who lives outside society’s construction of time.
Even without cataclysms, it becomes clear as the film turns to explore the urban decay of Detroit that our culture and installations are vulnerable to nature in only a matter of years. “The earth will heal itself. Humans will be gone and the earth will live on,” remarks Andrew Kemp, an urban gardener re-building homes in an abandoned inner city neighbourhood. Auto factories are mausoleums, and the workshop where Henry Ford invented the Model-T – perhaps the most radical of our “time-saving” technologies – is now a parking lot, after a stint as a movie theatre. Meanwhile, the electronic music producer Richie Hawtin reminds us that when you’re “with your machines, it’s a very personal thing.” Hawtin, who lives “on the edge between now and tomorrow,” connects us directly to the tree of Buddha’s enlightenment and the philosophy of the present, in Bodhgaya, India.
“If you have a beginning, then there’s a problem, but if it’s beginning-less, then there’s no problem,” Rajeev says. Yet we are inevitably “entangled in the idea of time.” The body, Mettler reminds us, is transient. A Hindu family carries their dead relative to the outskirts of town, where they burn him on a pyre. As the corpse quite literally goes up in smoke, we are returned to the cosmic perspective, and an observatory in Hawaii, on Mauna Kea.
From the obervatory, we encounter cosmic time. Earth occupies a “very quaint neighbourhood of our galaxy,” and, from this point, our planet has been able to evolve a life form which can think about thinking. The telescope is the best time-machine we have invented to date. With it we can look up to 10 billion years into our past. As the film remarks, “We are the universe looking at itself.”
And with that Mettler dares to dream the future. Or perhaps he is offering up images from a timeless dimension, where our interconnectedness and simultaneity are made visible. When he returns us to earth, it is back to his childhood home where his mother evokes in us one of the most direct, human experience of time – watching those you love grow old. A conclusion which leaves little doubt that if we take care of our responsibilities in the present – moment to moment – then the future will take care of itself.
Premio Qualita di Vita Award, Locarno
Masters Selection, TIFF
Best World Documentary, Jihlava
Canada’s Top Ten List, 2012
"A form of cinematic meditation ... powerful, moving and sensually ravishing to watch." – Geoff Pevere, Toronto Star
"Recalling the work of Terrence Malick, Werner Herzog and the late Chris Marker... The End Of Time becomes immersive and hypnotic... a ravishingly beautiful experience." – Stephen Dalton, Hollywood Reporter
"Peter Mettler's ruminative, frequently astounding essay film doesn't just contemplate time's relativity; it aims to cinematically embody it... Time is on this extraordinary doc's side." – Eric Hynes, Time Out
"A work of vision... A globe-trotting cine-essay about time... poetic and lovely." – Adam Nayman, Point Of View Magazine
"Mettler's trippy films work as perceptual experiences... free your mind, and the rest will follow." – Mark Peranson, Pardo Live Locarno
"Traverses the globe to explore (and explode) our conceptions of time, in this entrancing combination of documentary and mind-expanding philosophical speculation." – Steve Gravestock, TIFF
"One of Canada's great cinematic experimentalists returns with a documentary exploring the meaning of time... There is not a hint of the didactic here, but rather pure contemplation… a timeless, meditative state for viewers." – The Globe & Mail
"Splendiferously trippy!" – Jason Anderson, Cinemascope
"Peter pushes forward with every new film, in his bid for a re-visioned consciousness." – Philip Hoffman, filmmaker
"Mettler has tuned himself to the world. Always receptive to the unexpected." – Peter Weber, novelist
"One of the year's best films, The End of Time isn't something you simply watch; it's something you surrender to." – Peter Howell, Toronto Star
"This mesmerizing documentary uses images and sound to observe time and make our understanding of it palpable." – Paul Ennis, Canada's Top Ten
"To call it a documentary is misleading... Cosmomentary would be a more appropriate name for the genre Mettler is pioneering." – Brian D. Johnson, Macleans
"The End of Time explores an impressive array of ideas related to humankind's relationship with time. Better yet, it does so while providing an uncommonly intense degree of audiovisual stimulation - leave it to Mettler to make lava flows seem impossibly sexy." – Jason Anderson, The Grid
"Mettler approaches time as might an alien who s come to Earth for the first time..." – Angelo Muredda, Torontoist
“Visually-stunning and remarkably thought-provoking.” – Christian Williams, Utne Reader
EXCERPTS – THE END OF TIME
FILM STILLS – THE END OF TIME
SELECTED PRESS AND INTERVIEWS
A maximage / Grimthorpe film in co-production with the National Film Board of Canada, SRF, SRG SSR, ARTE G.E.I.E.
Cinematography, writing, editing, sound design: Peter Mettler
Editing: Roland Schlimme
Story Editing: Alexandra Rockingham Gill
Sound Design: Peter Bräker
Original music: Gabriel Scotti and Vincent Hänni
Sound mix: Florian Eidenbenz, Magnetix
Picture Design: Patrick Lindenmaier, Andromeda
Additional camera: Camille Budin, Nick De Pencier
Location sound: Steve Richman, Mich Gerber, Dominik Fricker
Producers: Cornelia Seitler, Ingrid Veninger, Brigitte Hofer, Gerry Flahive
Associate producer: Tess Girard
Executive producers: Peter Mettler, Silva Basmajian
Appearances in the film include: Switzerland - George Mikenberg, Henry Flora, Freya Blekman, Claire Timlin, Federico Antinori; Hawaii - Mitzi, Jack Thompson, Donald G. Weir, The Traditional Singers and Dancers of Halau i Ka Pono; Detroit - Richie Hawtin, Jacob Monte Longo Martinez, Nai Savoir Moran Martinez, Kinga Osz-Kemp, Andrew Kemp; Bodhgaya - Rajeev Agrawal, The Family of Manoj Kumar.
AWARDS AND DISTRIBUTION
Premio Qualita di Vita Award, Locarno Film Festival, Switzerland
Masters Selection, Toronto International Film Festival, Canada
Opening Night Film, RIDM – Montreal International Documentary Festival, Canada
Opening Night Film, Imagine Science Film Festival, New York
Best World Documentary, Jihlava International Documentary Festival, Czech Republic
Canada’s Top Ten List 2012
Nominated for Best Documentary, Cinematography, Score, Swiss Film Awards
Screened at numerous international film festivals; worldwide theatrical release; broadcast on TV in North America and Europe; Netflix and other VOD.