Friday, January 17, 2014

Die Wand

by Drew Martin
I just watched the Austrian-German film Die Wand (The Wall), which I think will settle into my memory as one of my favorite films. It's beautiful, and minimal.

Humans are fascinated with tales of isolation, and how we go on cut off from the society that nurtures us. The theme is played over and over in castaway stories, be they on deserted islands, life boats, space ships, other planets, or even prison cells. They act as tutorials on survival, both from a practical point of view of how one gains sustenance, to the just as critical emotional role of how we would handle the stress and sanity of different forms of nothingness.

The Wall sets us up with a middle-aged woman, isolated in the Austrian Alps by a force-field, an invisible wall that cuts her off from the rest of the world. It is suspenseful but not in a thriller way (and it avoids all of those traps), and while the screenplay is based on Marlen Haushofer's award-winning 1963 novel of the same title, is has the sensibility and pace as a Werner Herzog documentary. Martina Gedeck, who starred in the Academy Award-winning The Lives of Others carries the film with a great, silent performance.