Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Einfach Leben (4 Stars)

This is the first time I've ever gone to the cinema to watch a documentary. It was worth it. The film's title is ambiguous. It can mean "Live simply" or "Just live". Both translations are appropriate. It's about a small community who live in the mountains of Val Lavizzara in Ticino (Tessin), Switzerland. Their goal is to live a simple lifestyle, as close to nature and as self-sufficient as possible.

First of all, the modern aspects of their life:

They have two solar panels which generate enough electricity for the light bulbs in their house. They don't have power sockets in the walls, because they reject modern comforts like televisions and washing machines. They have no telephone, of course.

The residents have no personal money, but they do have a small communal fund which they use for the things that they can't make themselves, such as clothing. They earn money by selling food in the nearby village and by renting rooms to holiday makers.

As far as food goes, they have everything they need. They keep goats for milk and chickens for their eggs. Everything else is planted. They buy no food from outside. Their diet is mostly vegetarian, but that's based on what's available, not on principles. We see them eating meat when it's given them, but they don't slaughter their own animals.

The community was originally founded by 13 people in 1993. It later split into two groups, but the documentary only shows one of the groups. Three people live in the community permanently, and there is a varying number of visitors, some who come for a weekend, some for a few weeks and others for a whole year. There's also a neighbouring farmer, Katharina, who frequently comes to help. She enjoys the company, because she lives alone in her house further down the mountainside, but she disagrees with the simple lifestyle. She enjoys the comforts of modern life.

It's a hard life. Ulrich Stamani (pictured above) wouldn't have it any other way. He criticises Katharina for wanting to relax in the evening. He says that all he does seven days a week is sleep, eat and work. He has no need for anything else.

I'm fascinated by the lifestyle of these people. The way they live is beautiful and natural, but it's not for me. I would have problems spending even a few days with them on holiday. I enjoy modern life too much. If I were living with them, how could I write my blog? I'm addicted to electricity. I wouldn't say that I'm addicted to computers and the Internet because I'm old enough to remember a life without them, but I need a television and a stereo system for entertainment. I can't do without.

Another reason for not wanting to spend a holiday with them is that I wouldn't be able to communicate. They speak Swiss German, Schweizerdeutsch, but it's barely comprehensible. I've been on holiday to Switzerland a few times, but it was always close to Basel, not far from the German border. Near Basel the language is difficult, but not impossible to understand. This community lives in the south east of Switzerland, close to the area where Italian is spoken as first language, so it's a much more extreme dialect.

Click here to watch a trailer. It gives a brief impression of life in the mountains. It should be enough to scare you away, unless you're a tougher person than I am.

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