The Velvet Café

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The wall opens

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Long time no see!

What have I been up to? I don’t know. A huge workload. A need for rest I guess. Lots of movie watching, but no strong desire to write about them. Until now.

It’s about time that I get this place running. I feel the itch. It’s in the air. The force is with me. It’s time to leave the solitude and once again contemplate what I see publicly.

It seems appropriate that the thing that pulled me out from my temporary isolation from movie blogging was the Austrian film The Wall. The idea to watch it was given to me by Lena, who runs the movie blog Moving Landscapes. We’re both members of a Swedish network of movie bloggers, which regularly runs blogathons on various themes. This month we agreed on giving each other challenges, where we were supposed to dictate a movie to another randomly chosen blogger. It should preferably be something that went beyond what the movie blogger normally would watch. An opportunity to expand our horizons a bit.

Since I’m fairly broad in my taste for movies and love almost all sorts of movies, from the block buster to the low budget artsy film festival reel, it’s not all that easy to find a good challenge. I think this pick was a good effort though. While I watch many different types of movies they have one thing in common: most of them are in English. If you check out my blog there are very, very few movies in German. There’s a couple of Haneke’s movies, there’s Fritz Lang’s M and Wings of Desire but that’s about it. It’s not that I leave out movies from Germany and Austria on purpose, out of prejudices. I just don’t run across them a lot I guess. It’s very rare that they get cinematic release in Sweden.

In the case of The Wall, it’s certainly not something that you stumble upon by accident. It hasn’t got any distribution in Sweden whatsoever, digital or DVD. You have to buy an import version, with English subtitles, which enhanced the feeling that I was watching something that was beyond the ordinary, a movie which probably very few Swedes have seen or even heard of.

So what kind of movie is this? Well, I guess you could say that it’s some kind of mix between a “one man’s (woman’s in this case) survival” drama and a “something weird has happened to the world and we don’t know what it is” fantasy movie. The entire film takes place around a cottage in the Austrian Alps. A woman wakes up one morning and finds herself cut off from the rest of the world by an invisible, impenetrable wall. She has to find a way to survive on her own, with a couple of animals as her only company. The film shows how she deals with the situation. The woman is basically the only person in the movie, apart from a couple of very brief appearances and almost every line she utters is in the form of a voiceover, excerpts from her diary that he reads aloud.

It’s a somewhat sombre, slow burning film, which contains less action and intensity than you might expect from a movie about someone struggling for their life. The woman, excellently portrayed by Martina Gedeck, adjusts to her new life situation surprisingly well, without having a mental breakdown or cursing the world. She’s miserable, but still content at some level. In the review at The Guardian, they called it a “Walden pond with added wall”, which I think is a spot on way to describe it. We never get any explanation why the wall is there, if it’s a natural phenomenon, a glitch in the time-space continuum, an alien invasion or some kind of magic at work. This opens up for all sorts of interpretations of what actually is going on. Is it really about a woman who is trapped physically in the mountains? Or is it in fact an effort to depicture a state of mental illness, like depression?

It’s not a movie I would recommend to everyone I know. It’s probably too odd for most people. I kind of liked it though. It seemed appropriate. But unlike the heroine, I’m now going to reach out to the other side of my wall.

Hey out there! It’s good to be back. I’ve missed you!

The Wall (Die Wand, Julian Pölser, Austria 2012) My rating: 4/5


This post is a part of a blogathon in the Swedish network Filmspanarna.


Links to the other bloggers who picked up a challenge (all in Swedish):

Absurd cinema
Fiffis filmtajm
Fripps filmrevyer
Joel Burman
The Nerd Bird
Har du inte sett den (blog)
Har du inte sett den (podcast)
Rörliga bilder och tryckta ord

Written by Jessica

January 7, 2015 at 6:00 am

Posted in The Wall