2013 / 47 minutes

Directed by
Anna Grimshaw
Country of production
United States
Mr Coperthwaite: a life in the Maine Woods

"Autumn’s Work" follows Bill Coperthwaite as he prepares for winter. Wrestling with a large felled tree amidst its vast tangle of branches, Bill slowly and methodically breaks it down into expertly sorted piles of wood. He spends his days alone, tackling the great trunk with a cross-cut saw that once belonged to Scott Nearing. He works and rests, the gentle shifts of breeze and light hinting at the passage of time and the changing of seasons. In an unexpected moment, Bill reflects on the age of the tree and his own age. It serves as a poignant reminder of the span of life and the inseparability of man and nature.

The film is part of the "Mr Coperthwaite: a life in the Maine Woods" series: it charts Coperthwaite’s life as it unfolds over the course of a year. It explores the changing character of work through the seasons and the distinctive temporality of specific tasks. "Spring in Dickinson’s Reach" establishes, literally and metaphorically, the scope of Bill Coperthwaite’s world. In contrast, "A Summer Task" is tightly focused and follows a single activity in painstaking detail. "Autumn’s Work" charts the passage of time through a change in the seasons as Bill makes preparations for winter. "Winter Days" draws the viewer into the quiet space and routine of the year’s end.

A meditation on time and process, Mr Coperthwaite: a life in the Maine Woods offers an intimate portrait of a remarkable life — one shaped by nature, work, poetry and the rhythm of changing seasons. Coperthwaite emerges as a Thoreauvian figure for our time.He reminds us of the central, but often overlooked place, of nature in American culture.

Language and subtitles
English (no subtitles)
Location(s) depicted
Machiasport, Maine
North America
United States
Alternative culture Rural Everyday Life Art / Artists / Artisans