‘The Gardens of Linnaeus Hinkeloord and De Dreijen’

A documentary by Stijn van der Loo


The story of nature
Although the Arboretum can also be explained from a historical or botanical point of view, Stijn van der Loo has chosen to tell the story from the point of view of nature itself. “I made a deliberate choice not to cover the informative aspect of the garden, as I did not want the film to have the character of an educational course. You have to realise that people don’t remember so much what is said as the way it is said. They remember the way someone talks or laughs, the energy with which they talk. That’s how they build up a portrait of the person. That is what I have tried to do with the Arboretum. I have created a portrait that provides the viewers with an overwhelming experience.”

Music plays a leading role in almost all of Van der Loo’s work, and sound is also very important in this documentary. He makes particular use of sounds from nature, as well as stringed instruments. The sounds reinforce the message of the film. “Visitors to Het Depot see the film on three large screens, on which succeeding shots of the garden fade in and then out again. The surround sound system envelops visitors in sound coming from all sides, so at the point where the autumn storm breaks out, it really does feel like autumn. In this way the changing of the four seasons becomes an all-encompassing experience.”

This is the first documentary made by Van der Loo that does not feature any people. Even the statues in the garden only appear as vague outlines, as do the striking buildings. The focus is purely on how nature develops. The lack of characters made it quite tricky to film. “On one of the shooting days the cameraman looked around a little dejectedly”, recounts Van der Loo. “He said: ‘Wherever you look, there are only beautiful views’. And he was right, that was precisely the danger. Because a documentary containing only beautiful images isn’t going to work. There must be some kind of dramatic development in the film.”
Van der Loo sketches how the dramatic tension is built up using the changing course of the seasons: “The film begins gently, feeling its way with images of early spring, then growing more colourful as summer approaches. The climax comes with autumn, as a fierce storm tears its way across the garden. Then we float away into the serenity of winter, only to glide seamlessly into spring once more. In this way the timeless cycle of the seasons is captured in moving images.”

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