The Wall (aka Die Wand) review by Alyse Garner - Cinema Paradiso
As a bit of an animal fanatic and an unashamed dramatist I could not help but be taken in by the beauty and spiritualism inherent in German feature the Wall in which a woman, known only as “frau” (played with an implicit intimacy and emotion by the wonderfully expressive Martina Gedeck – The Lives of Others) and her gorgeous dog Lynx become trapped behind an invisible wall whilst walking in the Austrian mountains.
Whilst some described the movie as languid I would have to disagree, personally I was quite moved by the magic that seemed to sparkle throughout the narrative, fear not however this is not some daft science fiction fantasy and the woodland and mountains in which our heroine is trapped are not filled with pixies and elves. Far from in, the forests are populated with animals; dears, birds, rabbits, creatures with whom the frau must learn to live alongside, whilst also relying on them explicitly for her survival.
Learning to hunt, farm and care for herself in an entirely new and alien fashion Gedeck’s character quickly learns to appreciate the delicate balance that lies in nature; her hand forced into killing animals for her own survival she is nonetheless haunted by the ghosts of the birds and deer she has slaughtered. Whilst her own wellbeing is constantly tested in this not entirely hospitable climate. Yet the beauty that surrounds her, both in the landscape and the movements of nature itself, are so beautiful that Gedeck (and the viewer by extension) can not help but feel moved by them and the intimate nature of her experience with them.
Set as a series of flashbacks which are narrated in English by Gedeck the film largely takes place in the isolated and encircled area of mountain with Gedeck and her canine companion as the only faces on screen; any attempts made by the pair to break through the invisible barrier that surrounds them are futile and one quickly becomes as despondent as the frau. It is only her experiences alongside her animal companions, Lynx and the wild animals living in the enclosure with her, that keep her spirits up – the narration even attributes their company to the frau’s decision not to end her own life.
Yes one could call the Wall slow, whilst I think of it as unhurried. I never found myself bored, not once did I notice the movie’s runtime, instead I felt entirely drawn in and wrapped up in the mind of Gedeck’s character, her desire to survive and the infinite sadness inherent in her feelings about her situation. The change in her is unavoidable and the face that looks out at us at the end of the film is one of hardened determination and acceptance, yet with the eyes of someone forever haunted by the life they have been forced to lead.