Shortly before the premiere of the film “The Range. The Caucasus from Sea to Sea” its author – photographer Anton Lange – said there is no obligation to love mountains, but visiting the Caucasus is a must for every self-respecting man.
– Initially, this was only a photo and film project. Two lineups were working on it: group of photographers and a film group. The shooting was happening in parallel, so it is hard for me to say what was more important. This was my personal project where I was speaking as a producer, co-director, and as a storyteller as well.
– To a certain degree, it is a logical extension. Then I spent more than three years in expeditions and I still marvel at the incredible geography we managed to cover.
Mostly Russia is a horizontal and plane country. I spent years in expeditions: first as a biologist and as an assistant of famous Soviet photographer Vadim Gippenreiter, later as a photographer. I saw almost every Russian landscape. And at some point I realized I needed a break.
Our country is rich in landscapes, but everything is monotonous: Taiga – Taiga everywhere, for example. No matter how much you shoot taiga, it will be impossible to guess on the picture was it taken in the Urals or in the port of Vanino.
– You wouldn’t say the same thing about the Caucasian landscape?
– It is impossible to say that. When the idea of the film and “The Range” project only emerged, I suddenly realized that the Caucasian mountains, the main mountains in Europe, still haven’t been covered by me. Like the vast majority of population of Russia, I did not know the North Caucasus at all.
Everyone takes this land as something mysterious and controversial. Because of the specific media coverage, people are afraid to go there
The most interesting for me was to find out that the mountains – is a vertical world. I’ve changed the idea completely.
– I do not like mountains. In three years of shooting I still didn’t learn to love them. Mountains are something alien to me, I never was thrilled with delight while watching them. And I think it’s good. Sometimes it is very useful to keep your distance because the admiration makes you blind and hampers the focus. I look at the mountains – they are looking at me, and all this is at a distance.
– I have another love. I love sea, I love desert, I love forest. I love the clear horizon, and it is a rarity in the mountains. It is impossible to love everything. I could never understand why the mountains are considered to be always beautiful while they are quite different. If “beautiful” means the postcard of an Alpine meadow – then the mountains are beautiful. But the word “beauty” means something bigger to me, I never try to make postcard shots.
I am not a mountain man. And I do believe, that it is not an organic landscape for a human being
In the mountains you always have to overcome something. And even today people face huge trials there. I am not a climber, but I have always been interested in the phenomenon of overcoming that climbers have. Reinhold Messner was one of my invisible companions while working on the project. He is a great climber and a representative of the golden age of alpinism, he was the first to climb Everest without oxygen. The image of a man, making his final step to the top of a mountain is very important to me, it played a role in the formation of my perspective on the Caucasus.
– Yes, it is mine. But there is no gender-based prejudice.
I had in mind Russian aristocratic tradition when the officers and scientists travelled to the Russian Caucasus. They went into exile, to war, to be treated for tuberculosis: there are brigands, then Pyatigorsk water society – all that was more interesting for a young man, than a boring capital.
Of course, in the XIX century it referred very often to the initiation of a young man, but nowadays young people are free to go for it anywhere they want.
Rather, I meant that one should go for such a journey in a manhood, after you have visited a lot of places, because, you know, journey to the Caucasus is going back to basics in a certain sense.
– And yet – why do you say “every man”? What must he find there?
– Because mountains – it’s hard. It’s an adventure, and if you’re lucky – then also a test. And because this trip expands the horizon of knowledge incredibly.
If a person has never been in the mountains, he cannot even imagine what’s inside the vertical world and how people live there
To feel the risk and danger in the mountains you don’t need to be an alpinist. You don’t need to climb up the hill to get an extra adrenaline – sometimes it is enough just to go to the spring in winter.
The full text of the interview is available here