Anselm (2023)

98% – Critics
79% – Audience

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Arabicsubtitle Anselm.2023.1080p.WEB-DL.DD5.1.H.264-Zungenbrecher
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Englishsubtitle Anselm.Das.Rauschen.der.Zeit.2023.720p.BluRay.DD5.1.x264-PTer.ENG
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Anselm Movie Reviews

70 great minutes followed by 20 terrible minutes

Wim Wender does a documentary on famous german artist Anselm Kiefer and like his Pina Bausch documentary in 3D. Unlike “Pina” which really benefited from the 3D, because dance is an art form where space is important, you don’t need to watch “Anselm” in 3D.

The first 70 minutes are very impressive shots of Kiefers vast former studio complex at Barjac and of Kiefer artworks. Intercut with contemporary media reports and recreated scene from his childhood (played by Wenders son) and the beginning of his career (played by Kiefers son). All of this is very good, Wenders let’s the images convey the connections between work and life and other inspirations. Everything is filmed and staged nicely. But in the last 20 minutes the actor playing childhood Kiefer climbs into Kiefers big 2022 Venice exhibition where the real Kiefer is also present. And what follows is 20 minutes of a visual metaphor so flat and obvious every first semester art film student would be too embarrassed to put that into his film. Do yourself a favor: once St Mark’s Square in Venice shows up flee the cinema.

Ps. Last years documenta scandal looks even weirder once you get reminded that Anselm Kiefer started his career with a photo series of him traveling the world and doing Hitler salutes in his father’s Wehrmacht uniform. While last year germany’s biggest art exhibition was branded as a whole antisemitic because of a single motive within one huge “Where is Wally”-like work.

It’s hard to be a god, unless you’re Anselm.

“When a man puffs out his cheeks, he looks like God. When a man walks with a cross, he looks like Jesus.”

This observation was expertly recorded by a writer Yerofeyev, but in his texts there is at least, if not self-irony, then mere irony. In Wim Wenders’ film Anselm – Das Rauschen der Zeit, irony is not even present in the form of a hint. When the two mega-successful European maestros puff out their cheeks, the god-like quality reaches such an extent that you can only hold your breath for sheer pathos. That’s how I said goodbye to two of my youthful idols in one evening.

More questions, of course, to Wenders, although basically I sympathize more with Kiefer as an artist. I would like to think that perhaps it was only a friend’s camera, out of misunderstood friendly reverence, that failed to show him as a living human being, and indeed nothing human is alien to him. Wenders chisels the image of the artist out of marble and tries to show a block, a “hard man”, and we get a stilted, lifeless figure.

Here Anselm thinks, here he lies figuratively with Celan’s book, here he lies without Celan, stares thoughtfully into space, works, moves to an ever larger studio and stares meaningfully again. At some point, I stop distinguishing between the repetitive landscapes in the pictures and only see money, money, money. The 3D effect multiplies this money, we sit in the rain of money and look at the money.

The god-like male get-together is diluted by would-be gods: Kiefer’s son and Wenders’ nephew, who play the artist in his youth and childhood. The little boy contributes nothing but sentimentality and vulgarity. He stares meaningfully into space and makes no contact with anyone. Except to exchange a word with the only female character, the cleaning lady. Other women are only present in this masculine world, represented by an unreachable mother and symbolized by repeated white dresses with the same figure wearing either a haystack or a tuft of twigs instead of heads. Even old Freud would not be wrong here. Except for one minute, Ingeborg Bachmann flashed so vividly in this world of mannequins that this minute remained in my memory. Hard enough to refute the accusation of a lack of images of women, but also safe because it was short and long since dead and canonized.

I’m beginning to think that the lack of contact and self-absorption might be related to an autism spectrum disorder, and that this might be some kind of enlivening detail in the monotonous plot, a problem that takes the movie to another level. But we learn nothing about any disorders: The gods are disease-free, have no vices, are athletic and productive. Megaproductive. Not at all like Warhol’s factory, because the production of guilt over National Socialism is serious business, not a laughing stock or, God forbid, drugs and freaks like Andy’s. Kiefer’s taciturn and equally wholesome and serious numerous assistants are beginning to remind me of the characters in a Lenny Riefenstahl film. A triumph of aesthetics. Does criticism take the form of the object to be criticized?

One cannot help but recall the words of Candice Breitz from the same article by Mascha Gessen, which, as expected, was not accepted in Germany: “Good intentions that emerged in the eighties too often become dogmas. Dogma and ossified form prevent us from seeing that nationalist ideas can flourish in a completely different form.

Is it possible to show an artist outside the system of criticism in today’s world? Wenders created a mega-showreel, 6K, 3D, stereo sound, megalomaniac artist promo, a powerful spectacle, an attraction. He gave an almost tangible opportunity to see many works at once, something that would be impossible to see in an exhibition. And he didn’t ask a single question.

As a teenager, Anselm Kiefer wrote in his diary that he wanted to become the most important artist in the world. It can be said that the patriarchal culture of heroes has given him this opportunity. Hero-winner Kiefer refuses to comment on his work. What is behind the artist’s refusal? Could it be the realisation that the dragon winner himself is becoming a dragon?

Overwhelmed by the pathos, amazed by the beauty, unveiled by the aural, overwhelmed by the grandeur and covered in unexpected Christmas snow, I return to my emigrant home and only a long listen to Bomrani brings me back to my senses. I can’t help it, I love this kind of music. Kiarash Omrani sings a migrant’s song that says there is no hero and I want to go to a world without heroes.

Merry Christmas Eve and stay tuned )

Poetic rendering of Anslem Kieffer’s career

This movie offers a poetic interpretation of Anslem Kieffer’s illustrious career, steering away from the rigid confines of a hardcore informative documentary. For those already acquainted with Kieffer’s artistic journey, this film may not unravel new layers of information, but it promises a captivating and immersive experience that goes beyond the boundaries of conventional biographical narratives. As we delve into the intricacies of this unique cinematic venture, we find that it transcends the traditional documentary format, inviting viewers to engage with Kieffer’s world on a profoundly emotional and artistic level.

Anslem Kieffer, a renowned artist known for his thought-provoking and evocative works, becomes the central focus of this film. Rather than adopting a fact-driven approach to recounting his life, the filmmakers opt for a more creative and subjective lens, weaving together a tapestry of visual and auditory elements that mirror the essence of Kieffer’s artistry. Through this poetic rendering, the film seeks to capture the spirit and emotions that fuel Kieffer’s creative process, providing viewers with a visceral connection to the artist and his oeuvre.