The Farmer and His Prince (Der Bauer Un Sein Prinz): Film Review
Montreal World Film Festival, Documentaries of the world
David Wilson tours viewers around the organic farm he runs for Prince Charles.
A gentle-spirited tour through one of the happier byproducts of the U.K.'s continued support of monarchy, Bertram Verhaag's The Farmer and His Prince focuses on the man who for the last quarter-century has put Prince Charles's environmental ideals into action. Of interest to Royal-watchers and to viewers who need convincing of the practicality of organic farming techniques, the doc could have a brief theatrical run but is best suited aesthetically to educational video outlets.
We open with scenes of the prince, in a much-patched work jacket, up to his elbows in a thorn hedge he's training into fenceline. His interest here is clearly hands-on, and throughout the film he speaks knowledgeably about the need to take a "unified view" of farming, food policies, and the overall environment.
He may have initiated the plan to start a sustainable model farm in Tetbury, Gloucestershire, but he happily gives credit for its success to David Wilson, the farmer hired 24 years ago to run it despite having no experience with organic principles.
Verhaag follows Wilson around Duchy Home Farm, pausing for discussions of tilling methods, milk cow treatment, natural soil fertilization and myriad other ways in which over-scientific, short-term-profit-driven approaches prove inferior to simpler ones. We watch as he and his good-looking family run the daily operations of a business that, though it was started with Her Majesty's money, is expected to turn a profit and usually does.
In between, we get pretty punctuating shots of butterflies and bunnies (Sami Hammi's score pushes the bucolic sweetness a bit too far), and make informative side visits to hear from well-known admirers of Prince Charles's dedication. The most foodie-appealing sequence features the stone mill that grinds Duchy's wheat and turns it into gorgeous bread.
The wholesome evangelism will go on too long for some viewers, even at 83 minutes. But others will be charmed by a film pairing romantic images of family farming with ecological smarts and dash of fondness for the still-useful corners of an oudated monarchy.
Production Company: DENKmal-Film Verhaag GmbH
Director-Screenwriter: Bertram Verhaag
Producer: Bertram Verhaag
Directors of photography: Waldemar Hauschild, Gerald Fritzen, Paul Hien
Music: Sami Hammi
Editor: Melania Singer
No rating, 83 minutes