So is your film an American Pastoral depicting a lost romantic past?
Castaing-Taylor: The pastoral genre depicts an idyllic, bucolic Arcadia — shepherds have an innocent attachment to these innocent gamboling lambs that they will protect through thick and thin. There’s all this rhapsodic literature that recontextualizes the landscape as sublime and puts these shepherds up on a romanticized pedestal. But in our film, you actually get a sense of what it’s like to be a shepherd.
It seems like such a loss to have this way of life fall by the wayside.
Castaing-Taylor: Academics call this “salvage anthropology” — looking at cultures or ways of life on the verge of disappearance. Sheep were the first livestock animal domesticated by humans. Our conquest of the New World was funded by the Spanish crown, which had a monopoly on merino sheep. Capitalism began in the north of England in wool towns. The American Revolution was caused in part by tariffs on wool. Here is something on our doorstep that’s been part of human history for 5000 years.
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