‘A Life On The Farm’ Is Sadly Uplifting [FilmQuest 2022

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A Life On The Farm is a documentary that pieces together the work of a farmer, Charles Carson, who made films that were ahead of their time. Director Oscar Harding has woven together a beautiful tapestry of who Carson was, and what his work meant to his small English community of Somerset, England, with the help of the VHS tapes that comprise most of Carson’s unseen work.

On the surface, Carson looks like a farmer just playing around with a camera. However, it quickly becomes clear that he was creating something much grander than even he knew. He has so many funny bits about “life on a farm” while also trying to make sense of the death of his parents, wife, and even cat. This film is as quirky and offbeat as its source material and made the audience kind of laugh with the subject during his hardest moments. These heavy life events are juxtaposed with recordings of him taking mundane farm business and infusing it with humor. I truly believe that if Carson were still alive today, he might be the king of Youtube because he understood the silly humor that comes from not trying too hard. 

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This documentary is at turns heartwarming, inspiring, offbeat, and sad. I think the isolation of living on a farm in the 90s hits differently for those of us in this decade after experiencing lockdowns. One of the saddest parts of A Life On The Farm is when people talk about not knowing he moved away towards the end of his life. This man that made his community laugh with photos he edited for so long just sort of drifted further into obscurity. Seeing the people who have discovered his work and are sharing his legacy will tug at every heartstring you have.

A Life On The Farm not only gives us a glimpse of an interesting figure, but it also makes him as inspiring as it does sympathetic. The documentary is a reminder that art is everywhere, and anyone can make it. It’s not reserved for people in specific cities, who go into student loan debt to study it. While these images he made are precursors to memes and selfies, and his weird videos make us laugh, there is an overriding sense of a man looking to connect with others via his art. The documentary is a beautiful testament to that spirit. I think it’s the kind of feel-good film most of us are needing at this stage in the decade and a good reminder of what we’re all capable of when we march to the beat of our own drum.

Let me know if you’ve caught A Life On The Farm @misssharai. 

Summary

This documentary is a feel-good film that touches on isolation, loss, and the human spirit. It’s funny, quirky, and is possibly the weighted blanket of documentaries.

Tags: A Life On The Farm FilmQuest 2022
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