Anselm Kiefer is a fascinating and unusual sculptor that more people might like to know, but unfortunately this documentary does not make it easy. Actually I fell asleep the first time I tried to watch it. The next time I took a solid power-nap before I started and managed to get through the entire 100 minutes with a mixture of fascination with Anselm Kiefer and mounting irritation about the film itself which is unnecessarily long and unhelpful for a newcomer.
The film starts with exceedingly long and unexplained scenes of tunnels, sculptures and rooms - this is where I fell asleep the first time because it was totally unclear what we were seeing and how the different places related to each other. In the next section we follow Kiefer's fascinating process of work on a huge painting. Then comes an interview with Kiefer conducted by an unnamed person who seems so awestricken by meeting the master himself that he hardly dares utter his questions.
The answers given by Kiefer are very interesting and should have been used as voice-over explanations in the first section - it would have kept me awake! But we could have done without the interview in the library, which was only made worthwhile because it is finally interrupted by Kiefer's young son and his friend who are looking for something to play with in the background, and although the boys try to search quietly, Kiefer is distracted and visibly annoyed, and the interview ends abruptly. The documentary then goes through the same procedure again, unexplained scenes with sculptures, now in the open landscape, portrayal of the work process and interviews, which - this time, hurrah! - are integrated with the scenes of the work process.
In summary, the film is structured in an exceedingly cumbersome manner and moves at a lethargic pace. I am happy that I managed to watch it all because Kiefer is really a worthwhile and fascinating artist - but I did so despite the unhelpful structure of the film. So watch it, but be well-rested!
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