In the midst of beings as a whole an open place occurs. There is a clearing, a lighting... Only this clearing grants and guarantees to us humans a passage to those beings that we ourselves are not, and access to the being that we ourselves are.
Last week the new video guy recommended a film, qualifying it as one of his favorite films and after watching it, I now feel it can easily go up on my favorites list also. Video guys never fail.
"The Wall" is an Austrian film directed by Julian Polsler and starring Martina Gedeck.
After thinking about this story of a woman separated from all other human beings by an invisible wall I was at a bit of a loss as to where to begin because I didn't want to dwell on a lot of the stuff I feel is irrelevant to the essential story. So, I turned to Robert Ebert's site to see what they were thinking and of course as a ploy to kick start my mind.
Unlike Hank Sartin, the reviewer at Ebert, I easily see the plot although nothing about the film is as sensationalistic as the trailer might have you think. A woman is left alone at a hunting lodge with no escape. Her best friend is the dog who was also left behind. The woman learns a new way of seeing and thinking within her inner journey. I won't reveal the climax. The woman continues on in spite of loss.
The woman is never named and we know nothing about who she was or where she came from previous to her seclusion. Polsler doesn't waste time explaining where the impenetrable wall came from and we quickly learn we can easily live without knowing because the story concerns isolation, survival, anxiety and dread. The stuff of existentialism and not science fiction.
Once the woman has accepted her fate she understands thoroughly how hard she must work to merely survive a winter in the Alps, separate from human beings yet in the company of four animals.
The entire film is done in voice over, and as the woman speaks to us of her isolation and dread, we simultaneously see nature at its finest awesome forcefulness. When spring arrives, she begins to explore and discovers a small cabin in a meadow. The cabin is different from the hunting lodge in that it is set in the midst of a clearing where one can see for distances that reject the closed in feeling of the lodge.
The woman gathers up her animals and a few possessions, deciding to make the clearing her home for the summer. Here, she finds a particular peacefulness and in her day-to-day tasks begins to find some delight in her surroundings. The dog, Lynx, is her companion in this everydayness comprised of near sheer tranquility and lightness. The more time she spends in the clearing, the more she succumbs to the call of the earth and begins to contemplate how easy and natural it would be to simply become one with the earth. The call to let go and be.
However in time, her rational mind tells her she must be responsible for the animals and she prepares to move back to the confinement of the lodge almost as if that is where the dutiful life must lead. The lodge closed in by the forest and mountains comes to symbolize a sort of society where authenticity is lost as rules take over. Here one winter her white cat is killed. And here the white crow is abandoned by the other birds.
With the arrival of the next spring she is once again called to the clearing as a place where she can be unconcealed and unhidden. Here the sun shines along with a new consciousness that reveals to her a oneness with nature. Here she is safe from self and is free to let go.
However, the clearing of mind is not passive. It changes and with the change is found a new level of being. A place of being with the world as it is. Her self is brought to a new call through her consciousness. The self silently speaking to the self in a way that cannot be done in the midst of others.
And then comes the call to survival. Who places this call? None other than the self as it calls the woman to return to her own inauthentic self as survivor and caregiver. The call of guilt. The call of anxiety.
This is a film for people who like to think about the human condition and how we can be freed by nature as well as confined by it. It does not work for those who need action or the stuff of science fiction.
However, "The Wall" does entertain in that it causes us to wonder and to question ourselves. I wondered how would I react if left alone in the world. Would I curl up in a ball to die or would I fight to survive? Would I even want to survive? Who are we when there is no longer a need for the persona? Who am I as I grow old and more alone?
It is also a feminist film and a story of strength and the will to live and for those of us who are older it gives us new thoughts on separation and death. It is a film that causes us to wonder and one of transcendence. It takes us to another realm of thinking if we are capable of giving it the opportunity to do so.