The Wall (3 stars)

The Wall

Intelligent, existential drama adapted from 60s cult novel by Marlen Haushofer

If Franz Kafka had contributed an episode to The Twilight Zone, it might have looked and sounded something like The Wall. Julian Roman Polsler's adaptation of the cult 1960s novel by Marlen Haushofer offers an elegant, stunningly photographed reflection on the human condition that is as odd as it is entrancing.

Martina Gedeck (The Lives of Others) performs the cinematic equivalent of a one-woman show as an unnamed female who has decided to set down a record of inexplicable events. 'I must write or I fear I will lose my reason,' she argues in extensive voice-over narration. In flashback we see her arriving at a beautiful Alpine hunting lodge. Her travelling companions leave her to visit the nearest village but they never return. The next morning when she walks towards the village her path is blocked by an invisible, impenetrable wall. Anyone on the other side of the wall appears to be frozen in time and she gradually accepts that she may be the only living human left on the planet.

Initially accompanied only by faithful dog Lynx, she watches the seasons unfold like a latter day Robinson Crusoe. She harvests wheat in the autumn, endures a fierce winter and is constantly obliged to focus on the meaning of a life that is free from any responsibility but now defined by loneliness, isolation and despair.

If you buy into the central premise, The Wall offers an intelligent, thought-provoking existential exploration of what it is to be human. The photography is extremely beautiful with winter a snow-filled collage of stark Ansel Adams-style landscapes and summer a vision of lush, green pastures. Gedeck carries the entire film, playing without sentimentality but capturing all the physical exhaustion and emotional intensity of a woman with nothing to contemplate but her place in the world and endless hours in which to do it.

Limited release from Fri 5 Jul.

The Wall - Official Trailer

The Wall (Die Wand)

  • 3 stars
  • 2012
  • Austria / Germany
  • 1h 48min
  • 12A
  • Directed by: Julian Pölsler
  • Cast: Martina Gedeck, Wolfgang M. Bauer, Ulrike Beimpold
  • UK release: 5 July 2013

An unnamed woman (Gedeck) arrives at an Alpine hunting lodge, and one day discovers that her path to the nearest village is blocked by an invisible, impenetrable wall, with the world on the other side frozen in time. Like a Twilight Zone episode written by Kafka: odd and entrancing.