Shepherds' Journey into the Third Millenium

[original title:  Hirtenreise ins dritte Jahrtausend]

Switzerland 2002. 35mm, color, 1:1.66 Dolby SR + 16mm, color, comopt, colour, 124 min.

Hirtenreise ins dritte Jahrtausend Hirtenreise ins dritte Jahrtausend Hirtenreise ins dritte Jahrtausend affiche

Following "Alpine Ballade" and "The Peasants' War", "Shepherds' Journey into the Third Millennium" is the third film of a trilogy in which I deal with the fundamental issues of human beings and their existence. The main themes are the issues of identity, survival, and future.

One of the oldest cultural forms of human existence is that of the shepherd. In its essence it is of economic interest even today, and also embodies a distinct lifestyle and world-view. I wanted to get to know the life of today's shepherds on the threshold of the third millennium. In a time of upheaval and changes in values between tradition and future, the film is also an expression of my own inner conflict.

I tell a modern shepherds' story, based on transhumance, that transfer of herds between the seasons in search of greener pastures.

The shepherds in the film take on a life of privation and face a challenge that often reaches the limit of their capacities. They do not come from an agricultu-ral background, but have chosen this life themselves out of a need for the freedom to do something meaningful. (Erich Langjahr)

DirectorErich Langjahr
ScriptErich Langjahr
WithHirten: Thomas und Susanna Landis-Giacometti mit den Kindern Antonia, Josa und Selina; Michel Cadenazzi und Bea Ammann
Herdenbesitzer: Xaver Fluder und Karl Tanner
Journalistin: Ruth Bossart
PhotographyErich Langjahr
SoundSilvia Haselbeck
EditingErich Langjahr
MusicHans Kennel mit the alpine experience; the schönbächler sisters; mytha - the contemporary alphorn orchestra
Musiker: Hans Kennel (tb, büchel, alphorn), Paul Haag (tb, alphorn), Patricia Draeger (acc), Roland Schildknecht (hackbrett), Heiri Känzig (bass), Marco Käppeli (dr, perc), Agatha, Barbara, Daniela und Monika Schönbächler (voc), Carlos Baumann (alphorn, büchsel), Bill Holden (alphorn, büchel), Marcel Huonder (alphorn, büchel)
CollaboratorsKamera- und Schnittassistenz: Silvia Haselbeck
Textberatung: Manfred Züfle
Grafik: Art Ringger
Untertitel: Anne Cuneo (französisch)
Labor: Schwarz Film
Tonstudios: Magnetix Tonstudio für Film und Video AG
Mischung: Dieter Lengacher
Duration124 min.
Format35mm, color, 1:1.66 Dolby SR + 16mm, color, comopt
Shooting format35mm
VersionsUntertitelversionen: d/f, d/e, d/i, e/sp.
Sales DVD/VideoDVD   [order]
ReleaseNyon, April 2002
FestivalsNYON (CH): 33. Festival int. de cinéma VISIONS DU REEL 22.-28.4.02
LOCARNO (CH): 55. Festival Internazionale del film Locarno 1.-11.8.02 "Appellation suisses"
LEIPZIG (D): 45. Int. Leipziger Dokumentar-Film-Festival 27.10.-1.11.98
WIEN (AT): Viennale, Vienna Int. Film Festival18.-30.10.03
Addis Abeba (ET): EDA/Goethe-Institut
AUGSBURG (D): 16. Tage des unabhängigen Films 25.-29.11.02
SOLOTHURN (CH): 38. Solothurner Filmtage 21.-26.1.03
NANTES (F): FORUMDOC rencontres du film documentaire de l'apapl (association des producteurs audiovisuels des pays de la Loire) 5.4.03
TRENTO (I): 51. Festival Int. Montagna Esplorazione Avventura 25.4.-2.5.03
NEW YORK (I): Swiss American Film Festival, 27.4.03 Esplorazione Avventura 25.4.-2.5.03
MÜNCHEN (D): 18. Internationales Dokumentarfilmfestival 3.-10.5.03
REGGIO CALABRIA (I): 5. Festival Internazionale dei Circoli del Cinema 3.-7.6.03
LOS ANGELES (USA): Also Swiss event 2.8.03 im downtown
YAMAGATA (Japan): Int. Documentary Film Festival 10.-
HONG KONG (China): 6. MAX Filmfestival 17.10.-2.11.03
OSAKA (Japan) : European Film Festival November 03
KASSEL (D): 20. Kasseler Dokumentarfilm- und Videofest 11.-16.November 03
JIHLAVA (CZ): 7. International Documentary Film Festival Jihlava 23.-28.10.03
MILANO (I): International Filmmaker Film Festival DOC 7, 27.11.-3.12.03
WÜRZBURG (D): Int. Filmwochenende Würzburg vom 22.-25. Januar 04
WASHINGTON (USA): 2004 environmental film festival in the nation's capital 18.-28.3.04
CHICAGO (USA): Chicago Int. Documentary Festival 1.-11.4.04: Competition selection
BOZEN (I): Bozener Filmtage vom 22.-25. April 04
SEATTLE (Canada): Seattle International Documentary Film Festival, April 04
GÖTTINGEN (D): International Film Festival, 19.-24. Mai 2004
FREISTADT (AT): Festival "Der neue Heimatfilm" Localbühne Freistadt (AT) Ende August 04
GRENOBLE (F): Festival Pastoralisme et Grands Espaces(6ème édition) du 13 au 16 octobre 04, Prapoutel Les 7 Laux (Isère ), près de Grenoble (France)
KATHMANDU (Nepal): International Mountain Film Festival, December 2004)
SALZBURG (AT): Bergfilmfestival, 18.-30.11.04
TEHERAN (Iran) : Swiss Iranian Documentary Cinema Encounters 04
LA PAZ/SANTA CRUZ (Bolivien): EDA, Embajada de Suiza Okt. 04
BUDAPEST (H) : Filmfestival Dokumentarfilme aus dem deutschsprachigen Raum Nov. 04
MEXICO: Cineteca Nacional Guadalajara 12.10.-14.11.07 (Swiss Films)
CUBA: Havanna Cinemateca de Cuba, 5. - 12.4.08
TEL AVIV (Israel): Ecolnoa Filmfestival Mai 07
BRASILIEN: 17.6.-22.6.08 Sao Paulo Centro Cultural
MEXICO: Cineteca Nacional, Mexico City ein historisches Schweizer Filmprogramm. 8. – 20. Dezember 2015.
Festivals, AwardsGoldene Taube, Leipzig 2002
Grand Prix der ökumenischen Jury, Leipzig 2002
Don Quijote-Preis der FICC (Fédération internationale des Ciné-Clubs), Leipzig 2002
Schweizer Filmpreis 2003 für den besten Dokumentarfilm – Cf. Text der Laudatio
Preis der Gemeinden im Wasseramt 2003 – Text der Begründung.
Qualitätsprämie EDI
Würzburg 2004: 1. Dokumentarfilmpreis
Chicago International Documentary Festival 2004: Natasha Isaacs Cinematography Award
Publikumspreis Freistadt (Österreich) 2004 
Prix Spécial du Jury au 6ème Festival Festival Pastoralisme et Grands Espaces Grenoble (F) 04
ScreensSchweiz: über 45'000 Kinoeintritte
BRD: Bundesweit in über 90 Kinos
Österreich: Bundesweit in 15 Kinos
TV broadcastsTSI; SF DRS 1; ARTE; EBS (Education Broadcasting System) Korea; 3sat; TSR
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 number1003.813

Show screenings

Press review

Vienna Int. Film Festival 2002
One of the most beautiful films about tradition, identity and contemporary lofe in Europe in the 21st century is the Swiss film "Shepherds' Journey into the Third Millennium".

Dieter Pichler

Film Festival "Vision du réel" Nyon 2002
At the dawn of the new millennium, the shepherds move through a world that is strictly civilized. But this has not destroyed theit dreams, which are still fertilized by the myths of a reconciliation between nature, the animal and man.

Jean Perret

55th Int. Film Festival Locarno 2002
Capturing the weather-beaten faces of these hardworking men and women in close-up, and capturing in the same movement the metaphysical splendour of the landscapes, the director takes us on a quite singular migration to summer pastures.

Int. Festival of Film Societies, Reggio di Calabria 2003
At the dawn on the third millennium, Erich Langjahr followed the shepherds of the Swiss Alps, from the dephts of the vallys to the highest mountain pastures, from encampments in the open air to fireplaces in mountain cabins, from January to December, in snow or sweltering sunshine.

Swiss Film Award 2003: best documentary: Laudatio
«Emerging from a rich year of documentary film production in Switzerland, this film unfolds the panorama of a life that follows the rhythm of the four seasons. Individuals and families who were not born into the tradition of a shepherd's existence but who freely choose to make the sacrifice of this demanding lifestyle, experience the order of nature as personal freedom. The film's overwhelmingly beautiful photography and events do not simply lead the viewer to nostalgic sentiments but evoke a sublime sense through its classical formalism. "Shepherds' Journey into the Third Millennium" by Erich Langjahr completes a trilogy of films along with "Alpine Ballad" and "Peasants' War". Working as his own producer, this ten-year process has resulted in a one-of-a-kind oeuvre.»

Can a donkey's patient gaze stir a sense of wonder? Erich Langiahr's lovingly crafted film on Swiss itinerant shepherds in the snow-covered Alps proves that it can. Slow down, pay attention, and let Langiahr's film work its magic.

(Program Guide, 48th San Francisco International Film Festival 2005)

Taken separately, many images in Erich Langjahr's film about Swiss itinerant shepherds seem commonplace-a man building a Fire, a couple with their newborn son, a black-faced sheep bejeweled with crusted snow, children playing while their father splits wood nearby. Langjahr, however, masterfully uses ambient sound, evocative music, an editing rhythm that captures his subjects' pace of life and keenly observant camerawork to deepen the importance of these images. Often, they gain so much meaning from their place in the film that they stir, surprisingly, a sense of wonder. Langjahr works this magic by inviting us to slow down and pay attention. Thomas tends sheep during the winter around Lake Lucerne, joining his wife and their three children on their farm the rest of the year. Months of bone-tiring vigilance, fingers blistered by milking goats and days away from his family sweep away any romantic notions one may have of Thomas's life in this idyllic place. In the summer, Michel and his partner, Bea, tend the same sheep in the magnificent world of the high snow-covered Alps. Michel and Bea, without children, enjoy a life of greater freedom than Thomas, living Outside in the natural world. Langjahr's film shows us a way of life that has a wholeness increasingly rare in our hurried, harried world.

Sidney Hollister (Program Guide, 48th San Francisco International Film Festival 2005)

This is a beautiful film, with lots of great footage of shepherds. The rolling hills, the bitter cold of a winter day, the coolness of water as children bathe, the hours of toiling, and the warmth of family are all captured perfectly. The serenity of the mountain landscapes pair perfectly with the sparse dialogue. We meet several shepherds, all living in idyllic mountain dwellings. What the film lacks is staying power; we see several different stories that are almost virtually the same, and one can only watch shepherding for so long. We don't get fascinating subjects that really make an impression or strike us in any way.

Entertainment Insiders – Rating: 2.5/5

For Swiss filmmaker Erich Langjahr, tending sheep is not just a job; it's a way of life that deals with fundamental issues of human existence, identity, and survival. Following two itinerant shepherds over the course of several years, Schepherds' Journey meticulously documents and reflects on a vanishing way of life that is in tune with the four seasons and full of mystical moments, yet also marked by extreme loneliness, privation, and worries. Why would these young men, who were not born into a shepherds' family, choose to forgo many of the conveniences of modern society and live a life that keeps them away from their loved ones for months on end? One of Langjahr's biggest accomplishments in this mesmerizing film is having his subjects share graciously and freely enough of their innermost feelings and thoughts to help us understand what motivates them to lead a simple life. Beautifully photographed, leisurely paced, and set to an original score, Shepherds' Journey paints in lush detail a moving tableau of the fragile unity between humankind and nature that resonates with viewers everywhere. 

SF Station 16.4.05

Shepherds' Journey into the Third Millennium

In the age of jet travel, you have to have the courage of your convictions to turn heads with a story about shepherds. Erich Langjahr urges us to slow down. Reminds us, without scolding, to look around us. Calls, without raising his voice, to our heart and soul. This documentary film-maker was awarded the 'Kulturpreis der Innerschweiz' on 21 September in Lucerne.

We need moments when time stands still. They take us back to our roots. They take us away from hectic and stress, and heal our souls. You can follow Langjahr's shepherds' journey in your mind. Or you can even put on your hiking boots and rucksack and set out along the paths yourself. All you need is time. Peace. Far-sightedness. And calm.

Thomas Landis, one of the shepherds, has itchy feet nevertheless. It's all part of the job. "I want to be out there travelling, somewhere in the world." Every morning he packs up his things, ready to pitch his tent somewhere new every evening. He spends his days wandering through the countryside around Lucerne with his sheep. His life may look modest, but it is rich in reality. No appointments. No stress. Just walking. Waiting. Watching. Smoking. Counting. Resting. The meditative images in this film, the way the producer captures the shepherds' knack of observing details, of pausing to reflect on life, transform this tale into an experience that leaves a deep and lasting impression. But not all is meditation: there are lambs and kids to be brought into the world, cheeses to be made, fire to be kindled, hooves to be cut and the constant need for vigilance to ensure the herd remains together.

Langjahr is a master of his craft. He has traveled all over, filming documentaries, for around thirty years. Following his "Alpine Ballad" and "The Peasants' War", "Shepherds' Journey into the Third Millennium" is the third film of a trilogy. Langjahr says himself: "I deal with the fundamental issues of human beings and their existence. The main themes are about identity, survival and the future."

The shepherd's life is one of the oldest cultural forms of human existence. Even today, it embodies not only economic interest, but also a distinct lifestyle and world-view. "I wanted to get to know the life of today's shepherds on the threshold of the third millennium. In a time of upheaval and changes in values between tradition and future, the film is also an expression of my own inner conflict."

Langjahr tells a modern shepherds' story based on transhumance, that transfer of herds between the seasons in search of greener pastures.

Thomas and Susanna Landis-Giacometti and their children, and Michel Cadenazzi and Bea Amman too, take on a life of privation and face a challenge that often reaches the limits of their capacities. Erich Langjahr: "They do not come from an agricultural background, but have chosen this life themselves out of a need for the freedom to do something meaningful."
The almost biblical images are breathtaking, and the privations imprint themselves deeply on the spectator. But Langjahr's shepherds' journey is not just a hymn of praise to a romantically idyllic shepherd's world. This is a film about survival.
As Heidegger once wrote so beautifully: "Everything speaks the renunciation unto the Same. The renunciation does not take. The renunciation gives. It gives the inexhaustible power of the Simple. The message makes us feel at home in a long Origin."

Trudi von Fellenberg-Bitzi, SwissWorld

Solothurner Filmtage 2003

Much more intersting than the feature films were documentaries. Focusing on typical Swiss themes, many of them gain intensity and offer a fascinating insight into customs and ways of life, which are unknow outside Switzerland. Erich Langjahr, for instance, pictorializes the life of two shepherds in "Hirtenreise ins dritte Jahrtausend". The director abstains from commentary, delegating the narration to acute observation of the daily routine of life. There is nothing didactic in this documentary. With its wonderful, meditative rhythm. "Hirtenreise ins dritte Jahrtausend" is not only a description of a lifestyle in action, which its slowness contrasts sharply to the modern world, but also a new approach to perception. 

Walter Casperi, FIPRESCI 2003