If you tried to throw a pre-movie screening party for The Wall, it might go something like this: Spend the day alone fasting. Hike up a mountain and use a scythe to clear a field of grass. Once that's done, make your way back home, and eat only a light serving of half a potato and a small piece of week-old venison with a warm cup of milk while sitting next to the stove to stay warm. Sometimes life just isn't a party.
The main character within this eco-feminist dystopian sci-fi flick, an urbane woman in her mid-40s played by Martina Gedeck of The Lives of Others fame, has to face survival in the outskirts of a pristine village within the Alps, when she and her small alpine universe are abruptly and forever cut off from the rest of the world.
The heroine, who remains unnamed throughout the movie, has just arrived at a relative's hunting lodge for a brief vacation. Over night, an invisible wall has gone up around a small tract within the mountains that luckily (or maybe not so luckily) includes the hunting lodge. The heroine must come to terms quickly with the evidence that all life within the animal kingdom has come to an end on the other side of the wall. With the help of three domesticated animals—a dog, a dairy cow, and a cat—that also have survived within this new smaller world, the heroine takes on a life of continual struggle in the Alps. What drives the movie and the heroine is the question, "Why bother?"
Originally written by Marlen Haushofer in the '60s, The Wall directly faces the struggles of solitude, survival and liberation. The director, Julian Pölsler, had been contemplating how to turn this novel into a film for more than two decades. In an afterword within a recent printing of the novel, he wrote, "existentialism, love, the evolution of the physical and the metaphysical selves—these are all themes and moments I tried to reproduce in the film." He accomplishes this well through narration of excerpts from the novel and otherwise silent shots of the heroine communing with nature in the most brutal ways. The pristine setting in which the movie was filmed undoubtedly makes this a cinematic triumph. The land becomes as intimate and foreboding to you as it does to the heroine, and yet it remains the only escape from her mind.
The Wall (Die Wand)
Dir. Julian Pölsler
Tin Pan Theater