Wednesday, December 20, 2023

film review: Anselm (3D)

Directed by Wim Wenders

ChinoKino score: B+

Review by Allan Tong

Wim Wenders returns to the 3D documentary form with a portrait of German painter/sculptor, Anselm Kiefer. Few will know his name outside the art world, though Kiefer has a celebrated body of work spanning half a century.

Kiefer peaked in the 1980s after retrospectives in Chicago and New York where critics heralded that “America has a new superstar.” His sculptures and giant canvases made of materials like straw, ash and clay, depict barren fields and empty rooms. They are moody and haunting. Some evoke (some say, provoke) Germany's Nazi past, such as his photos posing in the Nazi salute. Kiefer's intent is to force the German public to confront its dark past, though the film deflects accusations that these images can be misconstrued as pro-fascist.

As with his previous, stunning 3D documentary, Pina, Wenders does not editorialize nor intrude with narration or with titles on screen. Instead, he presents vintage footage of Kiefer, seamlessly blended with contemporary footage of the 78-year-old, intercut with that of his adult son, Daniel, portraying a younger Kiefer.

The documentary flows elegantly and in 3D offers a feast of visuals. You can see in dazzling detail for miles across a snowy forest illuminated by sunlight. The 3D opens up the detail in Kiefer's artwork, particularly his sculptures. 

That said, I would have liked to have seen more biography on Kiefer and other voices to comment on his work. Anselm is entirely seen from the artist's point of view, presumably to let his art speak for itself. Indeed, the 3D format presents his work in the finest way, far better than any future TV screening will.

Released by Mongrel Media, Anselm opens December 22 in Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal.

1 comment:

  1. This is really exciting. ALLAN got to see it