Echoes Of Home [heimatklange]

"OK"

Echoes Of Home [heimatklange] Review


As an anthropological document, this film has huge value for examining a form of music that's usually ridiculed. That would be yodelling. Sadly, the film isn't sharp enough to win over many new fans.

There's a very strong sense of connection between yodellers and the Alps. "If I lived in a desert, I'd sing differently," says Zehnder, a 47-year-old who blends old-style yodelling with more experimental vocalisations, including a growling overtone that originates in Central Asia. And we travel there with him to practice. Meanwhile, we also meet the lively Stucky, who is part singer, stand-up and performance artist and blends her Swiss and American heritage into a bold, colourful personality. And Alder is a former child singer who mainly sticks to the traditional ways.

Al three of these musicians perform for the cameras and on stage, sing along with others, and teach eager students (in very different styles). They also take us through key elements from their lives: how music helped Zehnder recover from illness, Stucky's dreams of being a hula dancer, Alder's past with his singing family. All of this reinforces the idea that yodelling is much more than an indigenous musical form: it's their identity, a kind of healing, a form of communing with nature.

What emerges is an intriguing look at this music from a fresh perspective.

Although with the exception of Stucky, everyone seems to take it far too seriously. The singers' faces are often pained or filled with exaggerated emotion, and it also doesn't help that they're sometimes wearing lederhosen, complete with giant bells and diorama headdresses. Not to mention the guys blowing into massive Alphorns in the background. Fortunately, Stucky cuts through this silliness with a grounded sense of humour and a bonkers personality.

On the other hand, filmmaker Schwietert sometimes seems to struggle with this balance. The languorous shots of the mountains accompanied by ethereal singing are beautiful, and the variety of footage is terrific, including old travelogue footage, clips from classic films and some home movies. And the new-style singing is definitely impressive, in an artful sort of way. But structurally, the film is a bit repetitive and stretched out; even at just 82 minutes it feels long. And in the end, the best sequence is the one showing an old farmer talking to his cows through song.



Facts and Figures

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5

Cast & Crew

Director: Stefan Schwietert

Producer: Brigitte Hofer, Cornelia Seitler

Starring: Erika Stucky as Herself, Noldi Alder as Himself, Christian Zehnder as Himself

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