By Don Simpson | June 9, 2013
Director: Victor Kossakovsky
Most Americans are brought up with the belief that if we dig a deep enough hole we will end up in China; but that is actually not true. Other than Alaska and Hawaii, the vast majority of the United States is opposite of the Indian Ocean. In fact, living somewhere on this planet with a land mass on the direct opposite side of Earth from us is actually a rarity, since a majority of our planet is comprised of water.
Two points that exist diametrically opposite to each other on the earth’s surface are called antipodes. With ¡Vivan las Antipodas!, Russian documentary filmmaker Victor Kossakovsky observes the inhabitants of four distinct land mass antipodes: Entre Rios, Argentina and Shanghai, China; Patagonia, Chile and Lake Baikal, Russia; Botswana and Big Island, Hawaii; Miraflores, Spain and Castle Point, New Zealand. Other than the obvious presence of the camera, Kossakovsky and his crew purposefully never interact with the film’s subjects. The images speak for themselves — well, with a little help from the gorgeous orchestration of Alexander Popov’s score. Kossakovsky utilizes age-old cinematic techniques to establish visual relationships between the antipodes; communicating a variety of comparisons and juxtapositions to the audience without ever uttering a word. It may seem like Kossakovsky is not telling us what to think — since he so adroitly avoids the use of narration or interviews — but the stunning images of ¡Vivan las Antipodas! communicate volumes.
As our view of the world is [quite literally] turned on its axis, Kossakovsky contemplates human beings’ relationship to the earth they stand on and the natural elements that surround them. Some antipodes appear as mirror images of each other, while others seem to exist is sharp opposition; regardless, there is an ever-present sense of connectivity — whether it be mythically, spiritually or earthly. Through Kossakovsky’s lens, antipodal people are united just as much by their oppositeness as they are by their sameness.