The Last Bookshop of the World (La Última Librería Del Mundo) is a documentary that edges on experimental, concerning as it does the disappearance of bookstores and literature in our modern culture. Writer-director Rax Rinnekangas dives into all the reasons, including the ever-growing and expanding entertainment industry. The film is also part road trip through the Basque Desert terrain. In a van with a back license plate that says PLATH while HOMEROS is on the front, sit four individuals: Hannu-Pekka Björkman, Kaisa Kukkola, Nach Angulo, and Boris Konieczny, who constantly discuss world literature. As such, the film is more of a document of words, albeit important ones.
The purpose of the trip is to find a place to create a bookshop from a friend’s collection. From this jumping-off point, the film becomes an experimental drama as the books are in the mind of each individual who expounds their meaning and purpose in their language. Hence, you hear French, Finnish, German, and Spanish about a subject, author, or piece of literature but not necessarily in conversation. It’s experimental verse but with direction, and there’s rarely a reaction.
At times, verses from a Walt Whitman poem are put to music with many desert scenes, oftentimes filmed with a drone. This occurs throughout, but the name-dropping of authors, and not just the known greats, stems from cultures around the world; hence the selection of people in the film is ever-present.
“…find a place to create a bookshop from a friend’s collection.”
There is great beauty within this barren landscape with such interesting verse and storytelling. The cinematography is excellent, capturing the mood of what seems to be a death in a neutral environment. The only real drama in The Last Bookshop of the World is a lightning strike despite the overwhelming reference to the demise of life as we know it for anyone with a brain; or the last ones on earth who read.
As the destination for the last bookshop is chosen, the film moves to more theater with a Fellini spin. A taped-off area for the bookshop is visited by a group who offer their opinion on life and the meaning of our current world. They arrive in big hats and are seemingly fashionistas, all donning sunglasses; one is even holding an umbrella. This begs the question of whether this was all a dream or not.
The Last Bookshop of the World is very European in its style and purpose. It’s for the intellectual and those literate in literature who would appreciate the authors presented and how their work informs the individuals in the film. Although there is a beautiful, spirited level for the appreciation of thinkers and storytellers who write for hard-bound printed books, it can get a bit hippie-dippy with the singing of prose. As someone who travels everywhere with their books, I don’t like to think about a culture without books. Still, sadly this documents what might be a reality, especially in the current world where book burning and banning have become acceptable.
A finger is pointed at the West and Hollywood for our loss of connection to thinking and important storytelling, which relieves the soul and where we find purpose in our daily life and existence. But it is not just in the West where books are growing out of fashion. There’s a form of losing the printed word in every corner of the world, and therein lies the tragedy of The Last Bookshop of the World.
For more information about The Last Bookshop of the World, visit the Indie Pix Film website.
"…edges on experimental..."