Alpine Ballade

[original title:  Sennen-Ballade]

Switzerland 1996. 35mm, 1:1.66, Dolby SR + 16mm, colour, 100 min.

Sennen-Ballade Sennen-Ballade Sennen-Ballade affiche

Alpine Ballade is the first part of a trilogy about farmers, dealing with the question: "What is it, to be a farmer?"

In this trilogy, I am concerned with problems of identity, survival and the future, each film being focused on one of these themes.
In all three films, farmers are portrayed as independent human beings. Farmers all over the world are living a difficult situation in an era of mass production and globalized markets. Their very existence is endangered.

In this trilogy, I don't try to give an objective and accurate description of the economic, social and political situation of Swiss farmers. Rather, through my camera's journey, I intend to create a cinematic experience; evoking an image wherein the farmer's soul is reflected. I wish to facilitate the viewers' recognition of themselves, to enable them to confront their own personal situations and discover "The farmer" within.

Alpine Ballade introduces the viewer, without hindrance of commentary, to the life of an alpine cheesemaker and his family at the end of the 20th century. Questioning the meaning of identity, Alpine Ballade intends to make us aware of the great contradictions at the center of all our lives; contradictions revealed by the questions: "Who am I?" and "What am I doing?"

DirectorErich Langjahr
ScriptErich Langjahr
WithBauernfamilie Werner und Waltraud Meile mit ihren Kindern Christian, Marianne, Matthias, Werner
Schneiderin: Helene Rusch
Zusenn: Hermann Waldburger
Überfahrsennen: Ueli Schläpfer, Werner Schläpfer, Köbi Knöpfel, Martin Knöpfel, Ernst Alder
Silvesterchläuse "Schöne" und "Schönwüeste": Hans Keller, Res Keller, Werner Meile jun., Matthias Meile, Marcel Raschle, Thomas Wittenwiler
Silvesterchläuse "Schöne": Werner Meile, Edi Gantenbein, Walter Raschle, Hanspeter Schläpfer, Ueli Schläpfer, Werner Schläpfer;
PhotographyErich Langjahr
EditingErich Langjahr
CollaboratorsSchnittberatung: Mani Planzer
Mischung: Dieter Lengacher
Grafik: Werner Nydegger
Duration100 min.
Format35mm, 1:1.66, Dolby SR + 16mm
Shooting format35mm
Versions35mm, 100 Min., Farbe, Lichtton Dolby SR, 1: 1.66, Schweizerdeutsch
Untertitelversionen: deutsch/französisch, deutsch/englisch, englisch/portugiesisch, japanisch
16mm, 110 Min., Farbe, Magnetton, Schweizerdeutsch
Sales DVD/VideoDVD + VHS   [order]
FestivalsSolothurn, Nyon, Leipzig (D), Duisburg (D), Augsburg (D), Würzburg (D), Göttingen (D), München (D), Ballmertshofen (D), Alpirsbach (D), Salzburg (AT) Freistadt (AT), St. Anton am Arlberg (AT), Trento (IT), Reggio di Calabria (IT), Antwerpen (BE), Sao Paulo (BR), Yamagata (JP), Wisconsin (USA), Vännäs Hela Sveriges Film Festival (S), San Francisco, Goethe Institut, September 2005
Pro Helvetia: Essen (D). Potsdam (D)
EDA-Veranstaltungen: Helsinki, Tampere
Festivals, AwardsSonderpreis des Deutschen Bundesumweltministeriums
"Mention spéciale" du Jury de la FIPRESCI anlässlich des 39. Int. Leipziger Dokumentarfilm Festivals 1996
Selected for the official competition of the Yamagata (Japan) Int. Documentary Film Festival 1997
Werkbeitrag (Gesamtwerk) des Kantons und der Stadt Luzern 97
ScreensSchweiz: In über 50 Kinos.
Deutschland: Kommunale und Programm-Kinos in Stuttgart, Freiburg, Pforzheim, Villingen, Überlingen, Mannheim, Weingarten, Berlin, Halle, Leipzig, Alpirsbach, Witzenhausen, Hamburg, Immenstadt, Regensburg, Hannover, Ochsenfurt, Dortmund, Köln, Erlenbach, Lich, Herdecke.
Österreich: Innsbruck, Bregenz, Andelsbuch, Salzburg, Werrnberg, Freistadt
TV broadcastsSF DRS 1+2, 3sat. Planete, deutscher Kinderkanal (Ausschnitt), TSR 2
Dumont/TortajadaNr. 998
ProductionLangjahr-Film GmbH, Luegstrasse 13, CH-6037 Root
Tel. +41-41-450 22 52 – Fax +41-41-450 22 51
E-mail: info@langjahr-film.chsend this
World RightsLangjahr-Film GmbH
Distribution Switzerland
and international
Langjahr-Film GmbH, Luegstrasse 13, CH-6037 Root
Tel. +41-41-450 22 52 – Fax +41-41-450 22 51
E-mail: info@langjahr-film.chsend this
Suisa number1000.792

Press review

Erich Langjahr portrays the everyday life of a farmer in our time, a life which is endangered by the strains of a modern society defined by consumerism, the market economy, profit-maximization, share holder values, exploitation of natural resources and destruction of the environment.

The filmmaker observes, with a highly visual sense and sensibility, the trivial details of everyday farming life: feeding pigs, making cheese, milking cows, scattering dung, carving wood during the winter.

Langjahr does not however intend to explain farming techniques and their clichés, or to analyze the acute problems of today's farmer. Nor does he romanticize alpine life. Rather, he is concerned with the value of "being" of existing in a world where humans still retain their identities and dignity, where people are still a part of their respected and cared-for natural surroundings.

There are almost no words, no dialogue in the film. The camera moves slowly. Landscapes unfold in breathtaking colors. His (the camera's) eye lingers over insignificant details, conjuring up poetic and sensual images. Words and explanations are superfluous. The slow tempo and serenity of the film provide mental space which allows the viewer's imagination to drift freely, meditating and reflecting on their personal situation

Regula König, Catalogue Yamagata