Where many movies take us to highly imaginative and creative worlds, Look and See: A Portrait of Wendell Berry, reminds us that we already live in one. Laura Dunn’s film about poet, essayist, writer and farmer Wendell Berry is a reminder that activism can take place at many levels, and that many activists are also advocates. Look and See is also a reminder of a simpler way of life based in community, kindness and knowing when to say "enough".
Though he would not agree to be filmed, Wendell Berry’s voice walks us through his beloved Kentucky farm and reveals his deep love of the land and all that is attached to it. This film and Berry’s devotion to his land speak to the beauty, mystery and creativity of nature as a source of endless wonder and imagination which is free to all, or has been until recently. Berry revels in the wonder and special relationship one has in the cultivation of the earth, and although this film may be seen by some as being too farm-centric, I walked away believing that Berry wants us to see that we must cultivate that which is before us, be it a plant, a lamb, a city or a church. To take time to tend to details that need tending to; to put the effort and the work into feeding whatever our soil might be. Wendell Berry talks about limits, self imposed limits, of being able to say this is enough, in a world that is succumbing to clutter, and must-have-it-ness. The movie reminds us that what we do not have an unlimited supply of anything. Berry sees and has long been a harbinger that how we live has long term consequences; on ourselves, our communities and ultimately the world. This film was less about doctrine, more about living, and showing us that the way we indeed treat the smallest, the earth under our feet, is a good indicator of how we probably look at and treat the rest of the world.
How we tend to everyday things impacts our lives and our communities. In an age when we are in line for the next gadget before it is even made, Look and See provides an alternative to endless consumerism. While, we do not need to go to the extremes of Wendell Berry, do not need to be organic farmers, this film reminds us that we are limited humans, living in a limited world, and calls us to question if there is any concrete thing that is truly unlimited.