by Alberto Sclaverano
The Fifth Season is a thought-provoking film that portrays the devastating impact of humans on the environment. The story is set in a small, rural village in the Ardennes, between France and Belgium, where a catastrophic event disrupts the normal seasons cycle. Spring and summer never arrive, and the villagers are left to cope with the consequences. The animals stop producing milk and eggs, the crops begin to rot, and the temperature remains cold. The catastrophe is symbolized by the disappearance of the beekeeper Pol's bees and the refusal of the rooster Fred to sing anymore.
The directors use this surreal event to reflect on the dangers our world faces, particularly the climate crisis. While the film never mentions climate change directly, it is clearly an allegory for our inability to deal with it. The disruption of the natural balance between humans and nature leads to the self-destruction of the community, and the people's failure to come to terms with the situation ultimately leads to violence and madness.
The film's narrative is reminiscent of other European art-house films, such as Aki Kaurismäki's Le Havre, but with much darker consequences. The Fifth Season explores the dangers of losing a rational approach to external reality and the need to restore a positive balance between humankind and nature to avoid catastrophic outcomes. The film also highlights the dangers of finding a scapegoat, as the last people who arrive in the village are hunted down by the residents.
The film's ending is tragic and disturbing, with explicit references to The Wicker Man, a British horror film from the 1970s about themes of pagan rituals, religion, and sacrifice. While a glimmer of hope remains, it is clear that the directors wanted to send a hard message about the dangers of altering the equilibrium between humans and nature. Nevertheless, the Fifth Season is a powerful and moving parable that never softens its content, leaving a lasting impression on viewers.