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Alpine Ballad


Director, Photography, Editing: Erich Langjahr
Sound: Silvia Haselbeck
Producer: Erich Langjahr
Production Company, Source: Lagjahr Film Productions
Luzernerstrasse 16, CH-6037 Root, SWITZERLAND
Phone & Fax: 41-41-450-2252
SWITZERLAND / 1996 / Swiss German /
Color / 35mm (1:1.66) / 100 min

Erich Langjahr

Born in 1944 in Zug, Switzerland. Started independent filmmaking in 1971. His Film Ex Voto (1986) won numerous awards at Nyon and Leipzig as well as the Best European Film award at Rimini. Maenner im Ring (1990) also won awards at Leipzig and Nyon, in addition to Grand Prize for documentary at Strassburg Film Festival of Human Rights. The entry for this year's Yamagata, Alpine Ballad was awarded the special prize of Germany's Federal Ministry of Environment.


Erich Langjhar portrays the everyday life of a farmer in our time, a life which is endangered by the strains of a modern society defined by consumerism, the market economy, profit-maximization, share holder values, exploitation of natural resources and destruction of the environment.

The filmmaker observes, with a highly visual sense and sensibility, the trivial details of everyday farming life: feeding pigs, making cheese, milking cows, scattering dung, carving wood during the winter.

Langjhar does not however intend to explain farming techniques and their clichés, or to analyze the acute problems of today's farmer. Nor does he romanticize alpine life. Rather, he is concerned with the value of "being" of existing in a world where humans still retain their identities and dignity, where people are still a part of their respected and cared-for natural surroundings.

There are almost no words, no dialogue in the film. The camera moves slowly. Landscapes unfold in breathtaking colors. His (the camera's) eye lingers over insignificant details, conjuring up poetic and sensual images. Words and explanations are superfluous. The slow tempo and serenity of the film provide mental space which allows the viewer's imagination to drift freely, meditating and reflecting on their personal situation.
--Regula König

Director's Statement

Sennen Ballade is the first part of a trilogy about farmers, dealing with the question: "What is it, to be a farmer?

In this trilogy, I am concerned with problems of identity, survival and the future, each film being focused on one of these themes.

In all three films, farmers are portrayed as independent human beings. Farmers all over the world are living a difficult situation in an era of mass production and globalized markets. Their very existence is endangered.

In this trilogy, I don't try to give an objective and accurate description of the economic, social and political situation of Swiss farmers. Rather, through my camera's journey, I intend to create a cinematic experience; evoking an image wherein the farmer's soul is reflected. I wish to facilitate the viewers' recognition of themselves, to enable them to confront their own personal situations and discover "The farmer" within.

Sennen Ballade introduces the viewer, without hindrance of commentary, to the life of an alpine cheesemaker and his family at the end of the 20th century. Questioning the meaning of identity, Sennen Ballade intends to make us aware of the great contradictions at the center of all our lives; contradictions revealed by the questions: "Who am I?" and "What am I doing?"


Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival Organizing Committee