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Filmmaker Grant Gee weaves together stark black-and-white 16mm images with ruminative voiceovers and a haunting soundtrack to create this stunning reflection on W.G. Sebald's acclaimed novel The Rings of Saturn.
The four novels that W. G. Sebald wrote before his untimely death in 2001 at the age of fifty-seven have had a significant impact on contemporary literature. Reflecting on the weight of history and the melancholy of the post-Holocaust German exile, combining detailed but straightforward prose with the occasional haunting photograph, Sebald's quartet has inspired numerous contemporary artists and writers who are drawn to the way Sebald parses the nature of the official record and our own personal archive: our memory.
Retracing the "English pilgrimage" through Suffolk County in East Anglia which Sebald narrates in The Rings of Saturn — in which the author used the melancholic English landscape as a sounding board for digressive ruminations on memory, war, and the decline of civilization — Grant Gee's documentary Patience (After Sebald) creates a parallel to Sebald's haunting novel rather than an illustration or interpretation of it. Combining passages from The Rings of Saturn with reflections on Sebald's writing from a rich assortment of commentators (including Iain Sinclair, Rick Moody and Tacita Dean) set against beautiful black-and-white 16mm images of the brooding English countryside and a moving soundtrack from Leyland Kirby's The Caretaker project, Gee creates a stunning testament to the significance of Sebald's ideas for our contemporary moment.