Michael Pilz’s epic two-part documentary tells of life in a mountain village in the Austrian state of Styria. "Give it a chance and this film will soon draw you into its own cosmos; it can be counted among those works that teach you to see and hear things in a completely new way." (Ulrich Gregor, Forum 1983)
"Take what is before you as it is and do not wish it to be different, simply exist." This motto from the Chinese poet Lao-tzu precedes the film and is programmatic for Michael Pilz’s open concept, devoid as it is of a sociological motive. His almost five-hour-long cinematic essay was a milestone in the making of independent documentary films. And even today it is still extraordinary owing to its aesthetic waywardness and its free form – a mixture of compassionate observation, the self-reflective disclosure of the filmmaker’s presence and procedures, the contrapuntal use of sound and comments in the form of off-screen texts from sources as far-ranging as Lao-tzu to the Bible to Stanislaw Lem. The film shows the process of plowing on steep slopes as a concerted effort by man and beast. Pilz asks a farmer where he would prefer to stand for a shot. Himmel und Erde is both a historic document and modern cinema at the same time.