Family values dressed in extreme adventure
December 24, 2014
Editor's Note: From now until the Jan. 15-18 run of the Wild & Scenic Film Festival (wildandscenicfilmfestival.org), look for Chuck Jaffee's series of film reviews each week in Prospector.
"All the Time in the World" may be my favorite out of literally hundreds of films across the years of the Wild & Scenic Film Festival. Although it transcends the category, it at least contends for my favorite extreme adventure film.
The extreme adventure thing, that's indicator number one. Films of this ilk tend toward climbing 3,000 foot verticals or oxygen-starved mountain tops, skiing 80 percent slopes or surfing 80 foot waves. They swell with athleticism and danger. More mundanely charged with awesome, "All the Time in the World" exercises an adventure in family values. Mom, dad, three kids ages 10, 8, and 4, a dog, and two cats live for nine months in a cabin in the northern Yukon Territory.
Nine months, as in the river they came in on is frozen more than the whole winter. A cabin, as in no electricity, no plumbing. Northern Canada, as in zero other people. They actually have a surprising lot of stuff, but it is a wonder how they get it there and manage it.
The ecological thing, that's indicator number one primed. Yes, we need dire and activism-stoking messages about global climate change, decimation of resources, and flagging cultural resilience. Transcendent in its smallish sensibility, "All the Time in the World" connects grandly with nature and "can do" and the best a family can be, including wilderness spun versions of Halloween and Christmas.
Mom directed the movie, including when and how much to run the camera while life in the "bush" was being lived. Without shortchanging professional quality, Suzanne Crocker has fashioned a feature-length home movie that underpins decisions about how we all might be more at home in the world.
From an exchange with the director Chuck Jaffee: First, about those three wonderful kids, I have to ask. In nine months, were they ever bad or unruly?
Suzanne Crocker: Sibling rivalry was at its least during our nine months in the bush. I never once heard any of the kids say "I'm bored." And none of the children ever expressed a desire to cut our time in the bush short and return to civilization.
CJ: What is it about you and your husband that keeps you on such a constructive, creative, hardy, hearty course?
SC: In the bush we were undistracted. We had breathing space. We were relaxed. Humor and creativity returned — aspects that often get sacrificed when life gets busy.
CJ: How did you think about what you or others would think if something went horribly wrong with your kids during this wilderness adventure?
SC: It would be devastating if something went horribly wrong in the bush, or anywhere else for that matter. But I'm not sure the risks are any greater than elsewhere. Perhaps they are even less. We could be in a terrible car accident driving down the highway, for example, but we still drive. We take precautions, as we did in the bush.
CJ: I marvel at how profound your film is without it ever blaring that this is an "issue" picture.
SC: Although it's a documentary film, I wanted it to play out more as a narrative, so the viewer feels like a "fly on the wall." Sometimes, it is more powerful to allow people to feel the emotions and come to their own conclusions, rather than to pontificate.
CJ: Two of the kids responded to, "What's a big surprise about living for nine months in the wilderness?"
Sam: "In the spring, when the sun came back, I wanted to try making a sundial. I did. But then I felt guilty that I had created a time keeping device in the bush. My guilt surprised me."
Kate: "How much I didn't miss anyone. That I didn't crave being with people other than my family."
CJ: What do you have in mind for your next film?
SC: "The Cost of Convenience," a different type of documentary that will combine my two careers as filmmaker and physician. It explores the health and social consequences of how we choose to use portable digital devices.
Jaffee of Grass Valley likes to plug people into the spirit of independent filmmakers. Find his other articles for The Union at http://www.startlets.com.