Alison McAlpine’s Cielo is a love letter to the sky. Filmed in the Atacama Desert in Chile, the filmmaker raises the question, What is your relation with the sky? For one, it nourishes us. It breeds imagination and existential questions. It’s also a heckuva a beauty, especially seen from a location used by astronomers because of its vastness and lack of light pollution. Cinematographer Benjamin Echazarreta has done a fine job of capturing that beauty. Long shots allow the viewer to see star trails and transitions between sunset and complete night. Often, the sights are unreal, as if created digitally. These too-pretty-to-be-real images are a testament to the true nature of … nature. The sky is fascinating, and McAlpine’s interviewees appear to have a lifelong connection to it.
As she talks to astronomers and locals, we learn the reasons why the sky is important to them. These interviews are intercut with McAlpine’s own musings. Her words sound like semi-somnolent snippets of the poetry she offers to the grandest, most mysterious and absorbing part of the universe as seen by an earthling. Lovely as that seems, sometimes we get the enervating sensation that the narrator should just keep quiet and let us watch the scenery.