Chloe Zhao in her academy awards nominated movie Nomadland strikes a chord to the heart of viewers as to how human relationship can be perceived in this journey of life. She has magnificently drawn out the struggle of nomad lives based on the non-fiction book by Jessica Bruders, Nomadland: Surviving America in the twenty first century.
The film is Portrayed through the eyes of protagonist Fern, who after losing her husband goes on to live the life of a nomad, migrating from one place to another as a wanderlust. She develops a distaste for settling down because of ill timed loneliness, financial instability and restlessness but always with a peculiar hope of life. In her van “vanguard”, she moves on in an endless road in the vast emptiness of deserts and mountains in search of freedom and isolation.
Chloe Zhao in her previous movie ‘The Rider’ treated viewers with the beauty of towering trees, snow covered plains and thundering seas crashing against the rocks throughout the American landscape. As a trademark of her movies portraying the beauty of the nature, she brings out the connection between human beings and the nature through the vast empty landscapes.
This thought-provoking movie emphasises on certain values that often go underappreciated in our material centric culture and it reminds that people not possessions, are what we should really value.
It does ask us to reconsider our notion of comfort, home and relationships. When early in her travel’s fern runs into a girl whom she used to tutor, in a store along with her mother. “My mom says you are homeless” the girl asks Fern. “Is that true?”. Fern smiles “I am not homeless; I am just house-less. Not the same thing, right?”
Nomadic life isn’t for all as depicted in the movie by few characters, Swankie and Linda May, who show Fern that You have to take care of your own &#|t as a Nomad. Fern does show great resilience in settling in as a Nomad by working part time jobs from waitressing to camp hosting to working on a beet farm also including seasonal one in Amazon fulfillment center.
In another scene when Bill wells, leader of nomadic community says “One of the things I love about this life is there is no final goodbye.” He believes that everyone he has lost, He’ll meet them again. So instead of goodbye bill says “See you down the road.” The phrase becomes a theme for the movie itself which was “Dedicated to the ones who had to depart. See you down the road.”
Here the idea “what’s remembered lives” comes into existence. As Fern lives on with the memory of her husband and as bill lives on with the memory of his son. The lives that are lost and have departed, continues to live on as memory in their life, fueling them to pursue their Nomadic lifestyle.
Here the movie comes full circle as a truly artistic experience, when fern was asked about her ring during her job at Amazon fulfillment centre, she tells Linda she is not married anymore and she would still like to wear the ring even after the death of her husband. She was told ring is a circle. A circle never ends, symbolising truly, love is an never ending circle. It goes on in circles round n round. There is no end just like a nomadic lifestyle, you go on till the end.
Nomadland has already bagged many prominent awards including golden globe and BAFTA. With six more nominations for Academy awards including the best performance by an actress in leading role for Frances mcdormand, and there seems only more to come for this feature film.
This is a film that will allow it’s viewers to experience the human ability to help each other in its truest sense regardless of your relationships and orientation in life except for the belief in humanity and the will to be there for your fellow traveler.