We live in a society where it’s fairly normal to push our elderly away: family members of advanced age are typically sent to assisted living and nursing homes for care toward the end of their lives, where previously they might have stayed in the home as a respected resource for the younger generations.
With “The Elders,” director Nathaniel Hansen puts together a series of wonderful stories told by the elders that lived them, reminding us that we can learn from the experiences and insights of those who have spent more time in the world than we have.
The film is cut together as series of eleven stand-alone, stylized vignettes. The subjects are each framed in their own setting, and they tell stories from their lives about things like love, work, art, and poetry. The collection of beautiful tales and can be likened to NPR’s long running series Story Corps.
The film’s narrative isn’t as tight as most documentaries – the subjects Hansen focuses on are connected only by their age. “The Elders” doesn’t feature any archival footage of the period, merely the spoken word of the subjects memories.
Hansen’s film serves as a strong reminder that, though the role of the elderly in American culture has changed, they still have amazing and wonderful stories to tell.