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Cielo

The first feature from Alison McAlpine is a dialogue with the heavens—in this case, the heavens above the Andes and the Atacama Desert in northern Chile, where she alights on the desert- and mountain-dwelling astronomers, fishermen, miners, and cowboys who live their lives with reverence and awe for the skies.
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WHAT ARE CRITICS SAYING?

70

Film Journal International by Anna Storm

There’s a “Let it be” sense to McAlpine’s soft exhortations, which struck me as a little ironic, since her Cielo might have garnered more of the appreciation it deserves if she herself had quieted and simply let it, the sky, be, in all the reverent glory she with the silent poetry of her camera was already showing us.
50

The New York Times by Ben Kenigsberg

Ms. McAlpine’s purple musings in voice-over (“the stars tell me to go on a journey in this desert”), and the decision not to identify subjects formally until the closing credits, give the film an unnecessary fuzziness.
100

Original-Cin by Jim Slotek

City-dwellers may go their entire lives without realizing that the greatest movie screen of all is above their heads, telling billions of stories.
60

Los Angeles Times by Kevin Crust

A curious film in multiple ways, Cielo does not always achieve its lofty ambitions of transcendence. However, accompanied by the eerie silence of the desert and the plaintive wail of Philippe Lauzier’s mournful score, McAlpine’s visuals transport the viewer to a state of reflection while reminding us of the sublime beauty of the space above.
100

Variety by Nick Schager

Affording viewers a trip to the Chilean desert to gaze up at the crystal-clear sky, Cielo is a rapturous act of cinematic contemplation.
50

The Film Stage by Tony Hinds

While these individual images are indeed powerful, the surrounding film lacks thematic depth and narrative substance, rendering it inert and rather forgettable.