“It seems I’m filming my life in order to have a life to film.”
A documentarian (Ross McElwee) aiming to chronicle the lingering effects of General Sherman’s march on the South instead finds himself filming the various women he gets involved with.
Given the ubiquity of reality television these days — as well as the proliferation of self-made video journals airing on the Independent Film Channel and PBS — it may be difficult to appreciate the novelty of Sherman’s March, made twenty years ago. Working with actual film stock rather than video, McElwee allowed the twists and turns of his life to provide the fuel for a documentary which meanders leisurely rather than hammering in a particular point (though there is one, in the end). While Sherman’s March is over-long and sometimes self-indulgent, McElwee has a gift for capturing some truly quirky moments (and people) on film; this is the kind of gently humorous movie that grows on you if you let it.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- A fascinating yet respectful glimpse at some truly oddball characters engaged in everyday activities
- An aspiring actress doing exercises to avoid “cottage cheese” on her thighs
- McElwee’s friend Charleen trying to convince him that a devout Mormon girl may very well be his best chance at marriage
- McElwee’s unabashed self-reflection on love and loss
Yes. McElwee’s documentary remains an unusual, groundbreaking gem of independent filmmaking.
(Listed in 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die)