In Patagonia

Documentary, 1992, Venice Film Festival

A Novoskop Film Jan Schütte production for ZDF.


At the age of 35, Bruce Chatwin fulfilled a childhood dream: he travelled to Patagonia, well-read and thoroughly prepared, as if setting off on a traditional academic research trip. On his return he wrote an unusual book based on his notes and observations: IN PATAGONIA. The film, like the book, is a loose collection of encounters and observations from this harsh, barren country at the ends of the earth. And thus the journey portrayed in the film is both real and imaginary.

With quotations from Bruce Chatwin: IN PATAGONIA

About Bruce Chatwin

Bruce Chatwin was a traveller, a teller of tales and a connoisseur of the extraordinary. When he died in 1989 he was forty-eight and had completed six books. The first, IN PATAGONIA, had made him known; the fourth, THE SONGLINES, had turned him into a bestseller.

People were drawn to Chatwin because of what he was as well as what he wrote. He was fêted for his looks as well as his prose. He was famous for being a vivid presence and for being absent. In turn an art expert, an archaeologist and a journalist, an enthusiast for objects and an abandoner of them, it was one of Chatwin’s charms to be several apparently contradictory things and to express them in his books. He was a lover of the austere who had a flamboyant manner, a collector who railed against the idea of owning works of art, a strider in shorts and a lounger in a silk dressing-gown.

In Patagonia

“In my grandmother’s dining-room there was a glass-fronted cabinet and in the cabinet a piece of skin. It was a small piece only, but thick and leathery, with strands of coarse, reddish hair. It was stuck to a card with a rusty pin. On the card was some writing in faded black ink, but I was too young then to read.
‘What’s that?’
‘A piece of brontosaurus.’
My mother knew the names of two prehistoric animals, the brontosaurus and the mammoth. She knew it was not a mammoth. Mammoth came from Siberia.
The brontosaurus, I learned, was an animal that had drownes in the Flood, being too big for Noah to ship aboard the Ark. I pictured a shaggy lumbering creature with claws and fangs and a malicious green light in its eyes. Sometimes the brontosaurus would crash through the bedroom wall and wake me from my sleep.
This particular brontosaurus had lived in Patagonia, a country in South America, at the far end of the world. Thousands of years before, it had fallen into a glacier, travelled down a mountain in a prison of blue ice, and arrived in perfect condition at the bottom. Here my grandmother’s cousin, Charly Milward the Sailor, found it. […]”


  • Regie / Jan Schütte
  • Kamera / Bernd Meiners
  • Ton / Wolfgang Schukrafft
  • Musik / Claus Bantzer
  • Schnitt / Renate Merck
  • Sprecher / Ulrich Wildgruber
  • Produktion / Jan Schütte