Tuesday, August 27, 2013

"The Wall": A transparent barrier puts a woman visiting the Alps "under the dome"

The Austrian film “The Wall” (“Die Wand”), by Julian Polsler, is predicated on a concept that echoes Stephen King’s novel “Under the Dome”, which is actually a moderately successful TV drama series on CBS (TV blog, July 11, 2013). Actually, it’s based on a different novel, by Marlen Hasushofer.

A vigorous woman of about 50 (Martina Gedeck) drives to a remote hunting lodge (along a one way road), which apparently she will share with a couple.  Her beloved dog Lynx is with her.  The couple goes to the nearby village, which seems to be over an Alpine mountain pass.  She retires early.  The next morning, they haven’t returned.  She sets out on foot with Lynx to look for them, suspecting an accident.  Along the narrow road by a mountain stream, Lynx becomes agitated.  Suddenly, “Frau” encounters an invisible, transparent barrier.  It seems to keep others from the other side from seeing her.

Most of the film consists of her telling her story or surviving alone with her animals (dog, cow, two cats, and eventually a white crow), which become characters in their own right.  A few years of changing seasons pass, as we learn that Lynx has been killed.  Eventually, the dome was breached.  Or did it just come down, and did Frau not try to return from “freedom” to civilization?  Or did she really pass away the first night, and is this her afterlife?  If so, she seemed pretty healthy.  In any case, she runs out of paper for her diary, so there must be another afterlife. 
At one point, Frau refers to having had a supercilious attitude toward other people, and a liking to be left alone.  Be careful what you wish for, as conservatives say!
In the Stephen King setting (or even "The Truman Show"), the dome could block out weather. But here storms come down anyway.  Is this just a Wall up into the stratosphere rather than a dome?  Or is it the barrier to an alternate universe? 
As for the crow, I can relate to it.  The day of Hurricane Sandy in 2012, a black crow kept chasing be back into the garage, as if to warn me of the coming storm.  There was no damage immediately near me, fortunately.

The film’s spoken dialogue is in German with subtitles.  In the US, the woman’s first-person narration is dubbed in English.

The German site for the film is here
The only theater in Washington showing it is the non-profit Avalon, which is renovating.  It does have digital projection now, but the upstairs auditorium has no slope for view.  There was a fair crowd for a Monday night.  I don’t know why Music Box, Kino and Match Box didn’t give it a wider release. 

Picture:  A toy and game store near the theater, ironically named after a notorious 1988 horror film, “Child’s Play”.  Remember Chuckie? 

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