Starting in 2000, German artist Anselm Kiefer began constructing a series of large elaborate structures, comprising 48 buildings, a labyrinth of tunnels, bridges, lakes and towers. The film bears witness to an incredible creative process.
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Strange, modernist artist Anselm Kiefer gets a strange modernist documentary in this abstract appreciation of his work in an abandoned silk factory in Barjac, France. Like something out of a post-apocalyptic landscape, his work rises up like derelict buildings from the ashes. Mostly observational, but also incredibly dry, the film alternates between beautiful tracking shots and aimless moments of languid tedium.
The tunnels remind me of the "meatgrinder" tunnel of Tarkovsky's Stalker. The constantly moving camera and exclusive use of non-diegetic sound for minutes at a time also remind of scenes in Tarkovsky's films. There is a sense of an eerie immanence, of suspense, and also of an inaccessible history and doom. These are my favorite parts of Tarkovsky, and my favorites parts of this film.
The TV arts doc is so grimly formulaic, trapped by the trend for biography, celebrity commentators and remits for accessibility, this contemplative documentary is a revelation. We are given the opportunity to experience the artwork up close and as sensually as the medium allows with little distraction. Entertained not by narrative but by art. The filmmaker cunningly turns the production of the art into art itself.
An intriguing and hypnotic eavesdrop on a modern master artist at work. The cinematography beautifully captures Kiefer's bizarre epitaph for civilization. Unfortunately this is yet another film where I feel the soundtrack becomes a burden and is not at all in sync with Kiefer's own reflections on sound and music.