“Video poem made in a abandoned wool factory in Portugal for the museum of Guarda by Pat van Boeckel and Peter van der Pol”, says the Vimeo description. The Guarda City Museum (Museu da Guarda) is in central Portugal.
The English in the subtitles has a few problems, but the film, centered on an art installation, is so imaginative, it more than makes up for it. In fact it’s the Portuguese that’s a translation; Pessoa, who was raised in Durban, South Africa, wrote the poem in English under the heteronym Alexander Search, and the film uses a much later Portuguese translation by Luísa Freire. Pat van Boeckel notes that it’s not a well-known poem even in Portugal.
Updated with more accurate information about the poem’s provenance.
Szymborska’s most widely anthologized poem in a film interpretation by Pat van Boeckel, using footage shot on Sado Island, Japan, including (at the very end) a sculpture by Karin van der Molen. The usual English translation by Stanizław Barańczak and Clare Cavanagh from View With a Grain of Sand is given as onscreen text, with the poet’s own recitation in the soundtrack. I suppose some might find the images of an abandoned Buddhist temple a bit too obvious here (“great empty halls”, “two thousand years”), but I thought they made a perfect fit. The music is by Max Richter — the very same track van Boeckel used more recently for the documentation of his Rilke-inspired video installation.
Rilke’s “primordial tower” (uralten Turm) is given literal shape in this otherwise wonderfully suggestive film of a video installation based on the famous poem from the Book of Hours. The film, directed by the artist Pat van Boeckel, takes a kind of call-and-response approach—which seems highly appropriate, given the subject matter—by having a voiceover of the poem at the very beginning (with the English translation by Joanna Macy and Anita Barrows in subtitles), followed by the installation in a kind of reverse ekphrasis. According to the Vimeo description, the installation was “Made for art project Internationales Waldkunst in Darmstadt.” Max Richter composed the music.