Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
The Wall: A Very Private Apocalypse
the television adaptation of Stephen King’s Under
the Dome hits the airwaves, fans will duly wonder where he gets his ideas
from. Hmm, maybe Christoffer Boe’s Allegro or Marlen Haushofer’s Die Wand. Of course, both predecessors are much more introspective
in nature. Indeed, viewers witness a
very private apocalypse in Julian Pölsler’s adaptation of Haushofer’s 1963
novel, The Wall (trailer here), which opens this
Friday in New York at the IFC Center.
woman is holidaying with friends in the Austrian mountain lodge. Her hosts drive into town for supplies and
never return. Venturing out the next
morning she discovers an invisible barrier blocking the road. Scouting the mountainside, she discovers the
strange wall encircles her. She can see
people on the other side, but they appear frozen in place. Time seems to only pass on her side of the
wall, but it passes very slowly.
in flashbacks via the unnamed woman’s journal entries, The Wall consciously echoes Robinson
Crusoe. With no Man Friday, the
woman develops a close bond with the couple’s dog, Lynx. Indeed, it is largely her rapport with
animals that keeps the woman engaged in her solitary world.
The Wall implies much about man and
our unbalanced relationship with nature.
The English language voice-overs are often rather heavy-handed (and
clash with the limited subtitled German dialogue) but the film’s vibe and rhythm
are eerily evocative. Viewers will feel
like they are getting a true taste of what it would be like to be the last
sentient person on Earth.
over the course of several seasons, Pölsler and his battery of cinematographers
fully capitalize on the stunning scenic vistas that utterly dwarf the lone
woman. Carrying the film almost
single-handedly, Martina Gedeck (co-star of the modern classic The Lives of Others) gives a remarkably
assured performance. Mixing depression
and empowerment, it might be the purest cinematic portrayal of existential
living. However, it is also worth noting
Pölsler’s own dog Lynx is quite the performer in his own right.
Wall may well be a rebuke
of patriarchy and industrialization, but it still works rather well as a
survivor’s story. Admittedly, it is
deliberately paced (for obvious reasons), but the overall effect is hypnotic. Recommended for those who appreciate
apocalyptic and allegorical cinema, The Wall
opens this Friday (5/31) at the IFC Center.
Labels: Apocalyptic cinema, Austrian Cinema