Interview: Director Peter Mettler talks 'The End of Time'
Peter Mettler’s documentary will mess with your mind.
The End of Time has a way of both pulling you into the world he has outlined, and pushing you away from everything you’re watching. It is simultaneously a film about time and a film about film, and it’ll make you question both.
“It’s a paradox,” explained Mettler, the Toronto-born documentarian whose other work are similar process films, including Gambling, Gods and LSD, and Picture of Light. “It’s about the playground of time, about our perception, about seeing and being around time.”
What starts off with grainy video of a man free-falling from space, a man who admitted later that he felt that time had stopped, beings a documentary that is a more a series of episodes trying to define time based on different experiences around the world.
Mettler talks to a man who lives alone on a Hawaiian island, formed from the lava of volcanoes. He talks to monks who spend time alone and in silence. He interviews a techo DJ and squatters in Detroit, and physicists at CERN in Switzerland. They all have a different perception of time, and you will too afterwards.
The structure of the film is different to be sure, and as you’re listening to people talk about time, you can’t help but think about the timing and pacing of the film, something Mettler was very aware of while constructing it.
“In the beginning I thought the film was going to be more about meteorology,” he told. “It spun off into something more. There is an intuition to crafting it, an intellectual structure. The film is in several sections, they are episodes.”
“I suppose I’m subverting traditional film structure.”
In the end, or maybe it’s the beginning, the film is a unique one, a documentary about perception, and one that may excite you as much as it frustrates you. It is an exploration, opening as many doors as possible to what the possible definition of time is, and whether it really exists. Mettler doesn’t pursue one specific answer, but instead opens your mind to myriad possibilities. Whether or not you want to hear it.
“I’m not necessarily asking comfortable questions.”
The End of Time debuted at TIFF, and is now playing in Toronto.