A Spell to Ward Off the Darkness
Directed by Ben Rivers and Ben Russell
Opens December 5 at the Film Society of Lincoln Center
It would be wonderful to report that Ben Rivers and Ben Russell’s A Spell to Ward Off the Darkness achieves a new kind of synthesis of documentary, narrative and the avant-garde; unfortunately, like many films which attempt such alchemy, it’s neither fish nor fowl and winds up being rather unsatisfying. It peaks in its opening scene, a lengthy pan around a Scandinavian lake at night, rendered in a painterly palette of blue and black tones. This is the pagan spirit of nature and wilderness that Norwegian black metal often sets out to evoke. Alas, the rest of A Spell to Ward Off the Darkness never recaptures it.