- Release Date: 27/09/2020
- Cast: Klaus Tiedge, Sandra Tiedge, Lucas Tiedge, Lena Tiedge, John Masek
- Director: Dean Paarman
A hypnotic visual presentation of one man’s journey to the wild in pursuit of what fuels his dream and existence
When I checked Klaus Tiedge’s Instagram handle and YouTube channel, I was shocked to see that he has just about 4000 followers apiece on these platforms. Even a pedestrian YouTube schmuck who does nothing but abuse calling it “insult comedy” has more than a million followers on the platform. Instagram has also been equally dismissive of Klaus where I often find girls who have no other talent but baring their bodies muster up millions of followers. I was scratching my head in disbelief at why Klaus was not discovered by more people and then it struck me. He was not a “shower”. He was a “beholder”. While most of us today would think of the best angles to shoot a piece of food arriving at our tables so that we could put it on Instagram instantaneously, Klaus was the kind of guy who would rather sink his teeth into it and enjoy the dashing flavors and the appetizing aroma. He was slow in the “putting it out there” game but what he has achieved in the years that he had with the wild and his camera should be enough to inspire generations of starry-eyed photographers and filmmakers and make them go back to nature for its all-pervading joys and triumphs and for something that nothing else in this world can offer —the true feeling of being alive.
I discovered Safari of my Life while browsing through YouTube and the film immediately struck a chord with me. The story is that of Klaus Tiedge, a fine art photographer turned wildlife photographer who is diagnosed with cancer and after surviving, a grueling treatment regime and harsh lifestyle changes decide to shun all his inhibitions and heads back to Kenyan wildlife with his family to shoot nature, life and to share with his family the greatest gift that God has bestowed on him. As Klaus prepares, travels, and clicks his way through Kenyan wildlife, Dean Paarman, a fellow enthusiast and documentary film-maker carefully documents the drama, action, emotions, successes, and failures of the adventure. Paarman uses Tiedge’s commentary on the events to not only add a very personal touch to the film but also give us a lot more insight into a particular sequence and the flurry of emotions that are associated with it for Tiedge.
What makes this documentary so special is its heart. We learn about Klaus’ condition in the very beginning but the film doesn’t stick with it for too long. The issue is addressed from time to time but only to inspire as Klaus, in his own words, explains why it was his condition and the fact that he might not live too long that made him step out of the comfort of his home and travel to a place where he could not only feel alive but also share with his family his legacy. He says that his cancer didn’t put him down but instead made him stand up. It is also the looming feeling of his condition that in all eventuality made every moment that he spends in the wild that much more precious. Whether or not it was playing on his consciousness may be debatable but it sure was playing on my mind and that added an additional layer of drama for me in the tale.
There is a time when we see Tiedge capture the pictures of 3 leopards and is headed back to the camp to check his footage. He says to the camera that he is not sure if he had taken the picture perfectly and in an amusing act pulls his cap on his face as if to save face from humiliation and unbearable nervousness. While he is doing it, I was thinking in my mind that if he had not got the picture, he might never get another chance. This feeling looming in the viewer’s mind will definitely accentuate some of the sequences as what we are seeing is pure cinema and the only way to put in drama in pure cinema is through the characters that are playing themselves and drama associated with them. If I didn’t know about Klaus’ condition this scene might not have been all that exciting as then I would know that he could always come back to get more pictures. However, in this situation, his coming back was a far cry owing to his failing health.
The film is shot by Klaus Tiedge and Dean Paarman. While most of the wildlife portions are evidently captured by Klaus, Paarman devotes his attention to capturing the hardship, the drama, the comedy, and the emotional moments that present themselves in the journey using Klaus as his protagonist. He uses close-ups to give us intimate looks into the psyche of Tiedge and also give us a glimpse of his child-like enthusiasm for whatever it is that he is doing and experiencing. Paarman’s work of capturing footage worth weeks and then sifting through it all to come up with the best bits to tell his story that is just about an hour-long is a mammoth achievement and he should be bestowed with the highest praises. Klaus’ captured visuals are a treat for the senses. They are so beautiful and captivating that it is possible to watch the film a couple of times just to enjoy the African vistas and the wildlife on display. I don’t know how much color correction Dean Paarman has done with the two kinds of footage that we see in the film but it seems to be pretty close to reality and if that is what he was aiming for then he has succeeded phenomenally.
The final reveal of the fact that Klaus Tiedge succumbed to his cancer hits you like a thunderbolt in the end even though you are warmed up for it throughout the story. The fact that right before the reveal we get to listen to the final bit of his interview where he says that he feels better than before and that he is in no way dying in the near future makes it that much more tragic. Dean Paarman knew how to use that bit to uplift the emotional impact of the sequence and how he goes about doing it is very subtle and respectful. There are numerous interactions between Klaus and the wildlife of Kenya that makes us tense, excited, cheer, and also be in the awe of what we are witnessing. Safari of My Life is a summation of all these sequences and the heart that Tiedge put into his work. Paarman has an inspiring story to tell and he tells it well. Safari of my Life is available on YouTube for free. I request my readers to definitely give it a try. You will not be disappointed.
Rating: 4/5 (4 out of 5 Stars)
Here is the link to the film: