What does it mean to call a place home and what would you do to protect it?
This very question seems to be at the heart of Frederik Solberg’s film – Doel. Named after the Belgian town itself, it is surrounded by an immense industrial landscape – if you didn’t know it was there, you would never find it. Living in this town are just 26 people, all as vibrant and characterful as the next.
Solberg has created a poetic look into the lives of these people, documenting their day-to-day lives and discovering just what it’s like to live in a place as far-removed and absurd as this. But it is this absurdity that carries the film – marketed fittingly as a ghost town comedy; it is often a humorous catalogue of the larger than life personalities.
It is hard to remove itself from the absurd nature of the story; the town itself looks like it doesn’t belong, the last vestige of a simpler time. That makes no difference to those living in it as they fight to protect their homes against the threat of it being taken away from them. At first glance you would wonder why anyone would want to not only live there, but actively protect it, but the sense of community and belonging is inspiring.
Solberg’s camera has found the beauty in this strange urban land, there is a slow meditative quality to the film that brings this calm before the storm peace to it. There is a mystical feeling to it all, it’s hard to believe this place even exists (and in Belgium of all places) but it does and it is a sight to behold. Solberg’s discovery of the town seems to have been but chance, but it was one worth the visit.