O'er the Land

Director: Deborah Stratman
Screenwriters: Deborah Stratman

Institute History

  • 2009 Sundance Film Festival


With the excuse of freedom, we lose so many things.
—Silvio Barile

O’er the Land is Deborah Stratman’s meditation on freedom and technological approaches to manifest destiny. She captures the marching-band battle cries of the country with a strong, controlled tone that proves its point but is extremely playful, too.

Stratman documents the wild, wild worlds of gun shows—ones where you can fire machine guns in the forest and literally blow stuff up, reenactments of famous battles with historically accurate weapons and clothes (golf carts and Pepsi trucks in the wings), border disputes, and the organized frenzy of cheerleaders and motor homes. All are framed by the incredible experiences of Colonel William Rankin, who, in 1959, was forced to eject from his F8-U fighter jet at 48,000 feet without a pressure suit, only to get trapped for 45 minutes in the up-and-down drafts of a massive thunderstorm. Miraculously he survived.

The scale of practicing war as a game is colossal and hard to grasp at times. Stratman captures the events she depicts with wonder rather than disdain. Her thoughtful framing of images and meticulous editing help us understand the absurdity in this dark path.

— Mike Plante

Screening Details

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