Film review: Wim Wenders’s Anselm is a jaw-dropping 3-D trip into artist’s epic works

Film review: Wim Wenders’s Anselm is a jaw-dropping 3-D trip into artist’s epic works

Film review: Wim Wenders’s "Anselm" is an awe-inspiring 3-D journey into the epic works of the artist. Redefining the artist biopic, Wenders captures the profound themes, intricate details, and demanding processes behind Anselm Kiefer’s creative endeavors.

Wim Wenders’s Vision

An Artistic Revelation

With his mesmerizing film, "Anselm," Wim Wenders not only reshapes the artist biopic genre but also constructs a visceral 3-D tribute to the transformative power of art. Utilizing his cinematic expertise, Wenders presents a visually stunning film that diverges from traditional documentaries, offering an expressive portrayal of the renowned German artist Anselm Kiefer.

A Cinematic Canvas

A sense of awe envelops the audience from the start as Wenders’s camera glides through Kiefer’s expansive 200-acre estate, La Ribaute. This sculptured universe, nestled in the Cévennes countryside, once a silk factory and barns, becomes the backdrop for the artist's profound creations.

A Captivating Landscape

The film opens with a pink dawn casting its glow over a life-size wedding dress, strategically placed in the landscape. Ghostlike gowns, adorned with branches and glass shards, add to the surreal atmosphere. Wenders treats these objects with reverence, accompanied by a soundtrack shifting from beautiful German lieder to the whispering of women’s voices.

Kiefer’s Provocative Art

Exploring Germany’s Past

Anselm Kiefer’s vast and varied output delves provocatively into Germany’s haunted history, confronting Nazi atrocities and mythology. In the late 1960s and ’70s, Kiefer compelled his compatriots to confront their Nazi past—an "open wound" in German history.

The Artistic Process Unveiled

Inside Kiefer’s immense industrial studio, canvases are torched, covered with paint, adorned with dried flowers, and pierced with glass shards. The artist transforms them into nightmarish landscapes, emphasizing the impossibility of painting a serene scene after the ravages of war.

The Integration of Found Materials

Wenders captures Kiefer pedaling through rows of found materials—branches, dried grasses, discarded clothing, old photographs, and seed pods—all integrated into the artist's work. A small city of shipping containers and a lead airplane sprouting sunflowers add layers of complexity.

A Cinematic Journey Through Time

Dreamlike Re-enactments

Wenders incorporates dreamlike re-enactments of Kiefer’s childhood and youth, providing glimpses of the artist drawing in his attic bedroom or exploring wintry fields with his camera. Historic footage overlays scenes of postwar, bombed Germany, connecting Kiefer’s life with the ruins of his upbringing.

Confronting Life's Questions

"Anselm" operates on multiple levels—a revelatory biography and a journey through one of the most astounding works of art on the planet. The three-dimensional experience immerses art fans in Kiefer’s expansive world, prompting contemplation of life, meaning, time, and the universe.

Wenders’s Fluid Frame

Containing the Magnitude

Wenders, true to form, provides a vast and fluid frame that encompasses the magnitude of Kiefer’s art, inviting viewers to explore rooms filled with symbolic objects and ponder larger existential questions.