The Ultimate Self-Distancing Movie

I’ve been wracking my brain trying to decide what to write as my first blog entry on my new blog, The Disquisition. Since we’re all practicing social distancing and self-isolation (at least you’d BETTER be!), I thought I’d jump right into that subject du jour and recommend an excellent movie about that very thing.

The Wall (2013, 110 minutes, English) is set within the idyllic Austrian Alps, specifically on and around Gosausee, a pristine alpine lake I have visited several times to hike among the breathtaking beauty. It’s so beautiful it remains the only place that I have found so beautiful it actually moved me to tears. When I learned this movie was being filmed there I couldn’t wait to see it.

Based on a German novel, the main character (whose name we never learn) is masterfully portrayed by the German actress Martina Gedek. She is visiting friends who leave to go into the village shortly after she arrives, presumably for the weekend. She stays behind with her friends’ dog Lynx. Then everything changes. She is trapped behind an invisible wall. We never learn what happened to her friends or how this invisible wall materialized. But none of that matters.

The meat and potatoes of this movie is how she navigates the human emotional reaction to being forcibly isolated from the rest of the world. It’s a tale of survival – physically, emotionally, and psychologically. She explores for ways around or through the invisible wall, encountering people on the other side who appear to be frozen in time. She resigns herself to her fate and throughout the film continues to muster the strength to survive in her beautiful, isolated world.

As she learns to exist within her forced solitude she writes in a journal, which is narrated in English by the character throughout the film. Some of her entries could be written by present day individuals chronicling the progression of the crisis we find ourselves in today.

“I’m not writing for the sheer joy of writing. So many things have happened to me that I must write if I don’t want to lose my mind. After all there is no one here to think and care for me. I’m quite alone and I must try to get through the long, dark winter months. I have taken on this task to keep me from staring into the gloom of being frightened because I am frightened. Fear creeps up on me from all sides and I don’t want to wait until it gets me and overpowers me.

This is not a fast-paced movie and at times it can feel drawn out. And it doesn’t always give you the answers you are looking for as you watch. But it will make you think about what it means to be isolated and separated from the rest of the world when we are all experiencing a similar, albeit less dramatic, fate.

The Wall can be watched via streaming media on Amazon Prime Video for $3.99 (HD) and Vudu for $2.99.

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