Doctors, natural healers or mystics? Eric Langar follows in the footsteps of the Swiss natural philosopher in the documentary Paracelsus – Essay on Landscapes. Fun educational trip.
Director Eric Langar is close to the Paracelsus phenomenon. An important hint is hidden in the title: the film was not called “Paracelsus – Healing by Nature” or “Paracelsus – Doctor of the City of Basel”, but: “Paracelsus – An Essay on the Landscape”.
Perhaps the marketing department wouldn’t have let the title pass: the prospect of consistently filmed cow pastures and coniferous forests rarely guarantees a box office hit. But in light of the work and nature-oriented thinking of Paracelsus (1494 to 1541), the choice of the pan form makes sense.
Who was Paracelsus?
Why is Paracelsus, born Theophrastus Bombast von Hohenheim, a name still known today? What are his achievements? What were his theses? And on what subject did Paracelsus assert himself anyway? Was he a physician, theologian, a natural healer, an alchemist, a philosopher, or even a mystic?
Director Eric Langaher brought Paracelsus expert on board to explore this phenomenon, writer and Paracelsus biographer Bermine Meyer. He places him in front of the camera at a variety of travel stops – like a travel guide who is able to contribute many interesting facts about the scene. Mayer does this as a teacher, but always with enthusiasm and with a dry sense of humor.
A story in parts
One should not expect a strong breakdown of Paracelsus’ life work: the information is transmitted little by little and alternatively irregular, fundamental and anecdotal.
Paracelsus can be considered the father of holistic medicine. However, many of the theses and opinions he presented during his lifetime seem absurd from today’s perspective. Even his character was not above all doubt. The film draws its sense of humor from this.
What you don’t necessarily expect from a Landscape Essay: The film’s best quality is its entertainment. Beautiful and less scenic spots change quickly: Egg near Einsiedeln, Flüeli-Ranft, Entlebuch, Basel and the Rhine Valley are just a small group of stations. The accompanying verbal contributions are pleasantly brief and not overloaded.
Langar’s formula is simple: he travels to workplaces, memorial plaques, chapels, museums, libraries, and even soul houses that relate to the subject. There he sets up the camera, sets up the audio, and lets the specialist (usually Bermine Meyer) talk. You don’t need more. As an audience, you feel well taken.
Water as a conductive element
Towards the end of the film, Paracelsus was quoted as saying that the Rhine Falls were a lecture hall in nature. One note: This flowing water runs through the entire film. First, Sihl purrs in Paracelsus’ hometown while Pirmin Meier speaks. Gold is extracted in Napf area. In Basel, the Golden Fountain is scattered in front of the Pharmacy Museum.
Even more ironic, and even downright funny, when in some scenes this noise does not come from running water, but from the noise of the car and plane, which prevents the speaker from speaking. A touch of cultural criticism in a film that conveys above all how diverse and entertaining a small educational journey can be.
Theatrical release: April 14, 2022