This sensitively produced film is a compelling documentary of Anselm Kiefer's years at La Ribaute. He was there for nearly twenty years, employing a handful of men to build an eerie collection of tunnels, bridges, concrete towers, lead baths, lead warships and lead "bibles" all dripping with acid, and more nearly conventional art works. His principal legacy there is a set of stacks of concrete that deliberately totter and will in time collapse under the forces of nature, a chilling image of what the great metropolises of our lifetimes will look like in some post-capitalist era.
La Ribaute is not a convenient place to find on the map, still less one to visit, so Sophie Fiennes' meticulous film is a complete privilege to watch as the next best way to glimpse this extraordinary man's vision. She compiles her survey in four parts - a long chain of semi-stills, with the camera moving in one dimension, sometimes along and back, sometimes up and down, fundamentally content just to depict in good, mainly natural, light; then we see the extraordinary manner of working of this sui generis artist, a fascinating insight; thirdly a lengthy interview with Kiefer, conducted in German by a journalist who flounders out of his depth but Kiefer seamlessly supplies answers to questions that are not asked; then the closing phase lights up the title installations.
The film is intriguing, not least for the way in which time and again it hovers close to the holocaust questions that haunt Kiefer without [the film] ever having the courage to confront them. As a viewer one is left absolutely impressed with Kiefer's unique world (the logistics alone are bizarre - it took 110 lorries to transport the things Kiefer elected to take with him when he left La Ribaute, for example), humbled at the freedom with which his artistic vision scythes through issues and stretches the imagination outwards, and passionately interested to follow where it all may lead.
I went back and bought four copies for gifts to key friends. Anyone even a quarter interested in Kiefer should not hesitate.