Home Video Hovel- The Sky Turns
The opening shot of The Sky Turns shows a Pello Azketa painting of two children looking into an empty reservoir. Through a voice-over director Mercedes Álvarez describes the children as “looking for something that has disappeared or is about to re-appear.” Álvarez uses her camera to gaze into her native village of Aldealseñor, located in northern Spain, with the same fascination of the children in the painting.
Aldealseñor has been populated for the last 1,000 years but when Álvarez returns to the village after leaving 30 years earlier, there are only fourteen remaining residents. While showing off dinosaur footprints in the town, one villager refers to the ground she is standing on as “a burial ground for dinosaurs,” knowing fully well that she, as well as her thirteen elderly neighbors, is the last of a dying breed. The residents spend their time talking about their impending deaths. While working in the village’s cemetery, two men discuss if it is better to be placed in a tomb or buried in the Earth. The conclusion the men come up with is that it doesn’t matter, because they will just end up as two or three bones in 100 years.
The villagers bring this existential out look to their everyday conversations ranging from the memories of an old palace, to the impending war in Iraq, to space travel. The dialogue among the villagers shows the wisdom brought upon by the experiences of living in Aldealseñor. When discussing the possibility of settling Mars, the villagers compare it to history of Aldealseñor, when Romans invaded the area and natives had to flee and settle elsewhere.
Álvarez deftly uses the camera and editing to connect the disappearing history of Aldealseñor to the future. A match cut of a statue of an Apatosaurus to the construction of windmills within the village show how the “dinosaur burial ground” will be used to protect the future environment. The cinematography of the film presents Aldealseñor in alluring static shots, making the village’s landscape look like a painting.
The Sky Turns works best when Álvarez allows the camera to talk for her. The director adds some voice-over narration to the film where she attempts to speak poetically about her native village. Fortunately, there is little voice-over narration and the film allows the residents to represent their village through their everyday conversations.
The DVD, released by New Yorker Films, is presented in beautiful cardboard packaging. Accompanying the feature are Five Elements for Any Universe (Ideas About Landscape), a short film directed by Álvarez, a gallery of photographs from 1982 of Aldealseñor, a gallery of Pello Azketa paintings and an essay “Concerning The Sky Turns,” written by filmmaker Victor Erice.