In one project he creates an icicle sculpture on the rocks, attaching pieces of ice to one another to create a sculpture that eventually falls apart over time. (Soon enough, of course, it will also melt.)
He builds two beehive like structures of stone, one by the ocean, the other deep in a field. The film chronicles the disappearance of the first hive as the ocean laps over and its subsequent re-emergence when the tide recedes. The second one becomes all but invisible when summer arrives and it is swallowed by the surrounding vegetation.
While making his pieces, he often deliberately carries them to the brink of collapse. As we watch an intricate cobweb of sticks extending from the branches of a tree crumble under its own weight, it is impossible not to feel a twinge of sorrow over what seems to have been a wasted effort. But when you think about it, its creation becomes a paradigm of the finiteness of life itself.
As beautiful as many of Mr. Goldsworthy's works are, he takes pains to explain that they are not created to evoke pastoral picture postcard visions of nature. Touring his village, he comments on the toxicity of the bracken and of the profound effect that sheepherding has had on the landscape, which has been left nearly barren by the grazing animals. He meticulously grinds an iron rich stone into a bright red powder, which he deposits into a stream to create a beautiful but disturbing image of the earth bleeding.
As the film's images accumulate, the movie becomes a sustained and ultimately refreshing meditation on surrender to the idea of temporality. So much art is an egotistical attempt to leave behind something that will be contemplated for generations and theoretically for eternity. If Mr. Goldsworthy's humility...