Friday, September 01, 2023

Anselm - Das Rauschen der Zeit / Anselm (3D) (in the presence of Wim Wenders)

Wim Wenders: Anselm (DE 2023) featuring Anselm Kiefer. The finale.

Sheridan Opera House, Telluride Film Festival (TFF), Thursday 31 Aug 2023.

Larry Gross (TFF Program Catalog 2023): " For 50 years, Anselm Kiefer’s unflinching, unrelenting, often monumental paintings, photographs and sculptures have interrogated the tragic nature of modern German history. “Brutal and exquisite,” the critic Peter Schjeldahl wrote in description, “operatic and hushed.” Now friend Wim Wenders, who began his career at the same time, has crafted a hauntingly beautiful study of Kiefer’s astounding accomplishments. Working again with cinematographer Franz Lustig (PINA), Wenders creates a sensuous 3D immersion into the vast factory-studio spaces where Kiefer works. The film takes its libretto from Paul Celan’s Holocaust-themed poetry as it patiently reconstructs German history, and clarifies the artistic and cultural forces that formed Kiefer’s life-long obsessions. The film feels collaborative; the most moving moments demonstrate the love, understanding and respect of one artist for another." –LG (Germany, 2023, 93 m) In person: Wim Wenders "

Languages: German and English.
Festival premiere: 17 May 2023 Cannes Film Festival.

AA: A visionary documentary film on Anselm Kiefer with enactments starring Anton Wenders as the child and Daniel Kiefer as the young man Anselm.

Wim Wenders is at his best in Anselm, which instantly ranks among the greatest films about an artist, to be compared with Le Mystère Picasso, Lust for Life, Andrei Rublev and Nran guyne / Sayat Nova. The cinema of Wim Wenders finds new horizons thanks to Kiefer, and Kiefer's art acquires a new domain thanks to Wenders.

We are immersed in the art worlds of Kiefer. At the same time, the film is a classical documentary of Kiefer's studio-factories which invite comparisons with the bottegas of the Renaissance as well as The Factory of Andy Warhol. This is industrial-artisanal work using factory equipment, but flowing from a compelling source of creativity.

Kiefer's work is a coming to terms with history. The scope is monumental, but monuments emerge as ruins. Kiefer's landscape art is a vision of the destruction of total war. His human figures are often mere clothes without heads. 

Two poets are central, and both also appear in historical inserts, reciting their poems: Paul Celan ("Todesfuge") and Ingeborg Bachmann ("Exil"). A major fellow artist in historical footage is Joseph Beuys ("Rettet den Wald"). A mystery figure is Martin Heidegger whose Sein und Zeit is a major influence but whose silence about the Nazi past remains incomprehensible.

André Bazin noted about Le Mystère Picasso that it is not a film about paintings but painting. Likewise, Anselm is a film about the artist at work, the act of painting - indeed, action painting in a special and powerful sense. Anselm Kiefer burns the surface of his works and uses tools of arts and crafts to forge and twist them. Boundaries between painting, sculpture, environmental art and installation art vanish. Kiefer is a master of abstract expressionism, but his work has a strong representational drive, harrowingly twisted.

Kiefer's mission is historical, and his memory project runs parallel with Germany's Vergangenheitsbewältigung (coming to terms with the past) project.

Kiefer sees himself as a mythological artist, who is also redeeming myths from Nazi abuse. The final image (see above) is an expression of the Icarus myth.

Kiefer's cosmology of destruction keeps being updated in various countries, significantly in the United States, but also in venerable premises in Venice, where the Renaissance parallel is devastating.

The cinematography in 6K digital, Academy and 3D is extraordinary with multiple superimpositions, epic visions and combinations of historical and newly shot footage. The 3D experience is superior to Wenders's previous overture in the technology, the Pina Bausch documentary.

Wenders's visionary approach to destruction has affinities with Tarkovsky's films such as Stalker. Wenders has always had a special insight in the world of childhood, and in this movie it appears in affectionate sequences starring children of both artists' families, Wenders and Kiefer. The world of childhood emerges as a Gegenbild (counter-image) to the destruction.

One of the best films of the year. After the film started I soon knew that I want to see it again.

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