Colin Low II

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The Children of Fogo Island

Film Review by Dean Duncan May 21, 2015

Here are some home movies, by the greatest photographer/filmmakers in the world. Perfect compositions and juxtapositions, in the service of beautiful children at plainest and sweetest play. This is chock full of typical activities that register—this is after all the soon to be defunct Fogo Island—as exotically delightful. We’re tempted to idealize and condescend.  Look how charmingly these poor people recreate! Except that the kids do play charmingly, and with all their hearts. It looks like Brueghel’s Children’s Games painting, except that instead of that mass of activity, the filmmakers isolate and articulate and infuse it all with the eternity of a child’s afternoon. In a post-Flaherty way, though, The Children of Fogo Island may actually contain two contradictions. Aran (cf. Robert Flaherty, 1934) has landlords, and these kids are imperiled by adult things that lie beyond the frame and beyond their understanding. Note for instance that subtle, shattering sequence of the graveyard and the boarded up house. But as Mr. James Agee once so memorably observed, the children also abide. And at the end, these young Newfies even catch a fish. Very cheeky: Low and his collaborators will trade in clichés, because they’ve already utterly obliterated them.

It’s lovely: