The Waste Land

The documentary The Waste Land translates T.S. Eliot's poem into the present and shows how Eliot's words still resonate in our society a hundred years on.

Please note that this film is in English, Dutch, German, Sanskrit and Italian, with Dutch subtitles.
Time & Tickets

T.S. Eliot’s THE WASTE LAND is like a patchwork quilt. The poet quoted from Dante, Buddhism and Hinduism – the hugely influential modernist result is not easily understood. Filmmaker Chris Teerink, who started working on this documentary back in 2015, makes no attempt to explain the poem, but looks for parallels with our time. In his research, Teerink takes the viewer across the world: from the cityscapes of London to the no man’s land of the Mojave Desert, and from writer Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer’s Italy to the borders of Poland, a recent site of violent restriction for those seeking refuge. The Waste Land is everywhere.

The form of THE WASTE LAND is highly effective. Instead of moving images, Teerink opts for photographs and stills. The soundtrack features interviews with writers, literary scholars and other thinkers, alongside powerful readings of the poem. Using photographs rather than moving images leaves plenty of room for interpretation of the interviews and the poem. The documentary is like a readable slideshow that is wonderfully consistent with Eliot’s fragmented work.

Chris Teerink, Netherlands, 2023, 105 min. English, Dutch, German, Sanskrit & Italian spoken, Dutch subtitles. With Ilja Leonard Pfeiffer.