O, Collecting Eggs Despite the Times
Pim Zwier / NL, 2021 / 87 min.
A fascinating archive film about the oologist Max Schönwetter, who devoted his life to the study of birds’ eggs. He collected 19,206 beautiful specimens, from birds ranging from the tiny garden warbler to the rhea. In the meantime, WWII was looming.
From the translucent golden eggs of the Tibetan bearded vulture to those of the British guillemot with their Jackson Pollock-like splashes, German ornithologist Max Schönwetter (1874-1961) collected them all. He devoted his life to oology, the study of birds’ eggs. But while Schönwetter created order in his world of eggs, chaos broke out in the world around him on the eve of the Second World War.
Archive footage of turbulent outside events contrasts with re-enacted scenes from Schönwetter's study. As Nazis march through the streets, he measures garden warbler’s eggs. His correspondence with fellow scientists and collectors (heard in voiceover) evokes both the zeitgeist and the single-minded collecting urges of Schönwetter and his associates. A soldier on the Finnish-Russian front, for example, is delighted with the ptarmigan eggs he has found between battles.
Close-ups of the eggs from Schönwetter's collection (he had 19,206) are timeless in all their mottled, speckled, and colorful beauty.
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