Conservatively tagged as a documentary film and cautiously described as "an interesting document" Cynthia Beatt's film really deserves to be trumpeted from the rooftops as an inspiring example of prophetic film making.
In January 1989 East Germany's leader Erich Honecker boasted that the Berlin Wall would stand for another hundred years, whilst at the same time Cynthia Beatt was making a film which like a prophetic dream was predicting its imminent fall and Honecker's imminent demise, by forces in the collective unconscious of the German people which had reached a critical mass.
The East German government was a rigid, authoritarian and repressive regime that walled in its own citizens to stop them from leaving. Psychologically it was a one-sided, over-rational and paranoid mind that built a wall of solitude around its own suffering, becoming in effect a prisoner of its own fears.
Sombre stuff, but surprisingly this exploratory film is anything but sombre, its light and airy, deceptively simple and hypnotic in a palliative way because although fragmentary it has a flowing style which is quite addictive. Yep, I love this film and after I've played it once I just go back to the beginning and play it again.
The film's focus is on the compensatory factor that the neurotic ego (East Germany) refuses to acknowledge, namely the unconscious feminine (the cyclist) which circumnavigates its defences (the wall) trying to penetrate and end its self inflicted alienation. The girl represents everything that East Germany's government lacked a pure heart, innocence, a feeling for nature, freethinking, inquisitiveness and most importantly openness. The girl is played by none other than Tilda Swinton who is one of those special few that John Beebe is describing in his article, The Anima in Film*, when he says they "transform from person into image and move the film past the personal and into the archetypal realm of psychological experience". As the film progresses it becomes more and more apparent that the truncated, dead end, streets indicate that all links to the unconscious and the feminine sphere have been cut. The check points are closed, the gates are locked and there is no reaction in the mute far off faces of the border guards that the cyclist waves to. Her comment "its completely mad, this place" is in fact the psyche's fatal diagnosis and summary judgement.
If the human ego will not respond to the psyche's attempt to heal it, then eventually the psyche will pull the plug which is what promptly happened to the East German Government in October 1989. This amazing film tells us that if we want to avoid going down the plug hole we must relate to our own unconscious which, just like the cyclist, is waiting patiently to be acknowledged so that the healing process can begin.
*Quoted article is from the book 'Jung & Film'and'Gender and Soul in Psychotherapy'
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