A review of “Rivers and Tides” by Jeanne Aufmuth


Stars: *** 1/2

Rating: Not Rated, but could be G for all ages

Run Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes



Farewell, summer humdrums, hello restorative documentary tonic.  Just when you thought all artistic intelligence had been sucked away from the cinema, German filmmaker Thomas Riedelsheimer brings Scottish sculptor Andy Goldsworthy’s fascinating psyche to the big screen.

Goldsworthy is a contemporary eccentric, a man so in sync with the environment that he spends his days re-creating God’s natural universe to suit his artistic whims.  The results are remarkable – delicate ice sculptures that melt away in the rising sun, frail mosaics of reeds and thorns that collapse under the barest hint of a breeze, and a botanical parade of petals that ultimately wash away in a watery torrent.

Why go to all the trouble, only to see such painstaking efforts come to naught? According to Goldsworthy, it’s not the finished artistic product, but the movement of energy from one place to another that captivates him so.

As is true with most inventive geniuses, the pixie-ish Goldsworthy is a trifle odd.  His strange mannerisms make “Rivers” the compelling conversation piece that it is.  Through short bursts of narration and a voyeuristic, behind-the-scenes home tour (in which he seems completely bewildered by his four young children), Goldsworthy emerges as a brilliant talent and a human being one step removed from reality.

Goldsworthy claims that his art is “a form of nourishment”, and his passion is thoroughly infectious.  Languorous meanderings through the cracks and crevices of Goldsworthy’s creations slow the pace, but present an essential awareness of his craft.

From ephemeral outdoor impulses to more permanent stone walls, imaginative photographs, and wooden sculptures, Andy Goldsworthy will leave behind an important legacy.  “Rivers and Tides” is a tranquil experience.