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The Invisible Frame (2009)

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Title: The Invisible Frame (2009)

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12 November 2009 (Germany)  »

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Cynthia Beatts mesmerising film invites us to look inside ourselves for a truth which can guide us through the existential void.
5 March 2010 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

The Invisible Frame unfolds as a cycle journey along the line of the former Berlin Wall but this film is artful and philosophical rather than nostalgic. It's a stream of images meandering through that "end of the day" atmosphere – dreamy, contemplative, a touch wistful, occasionally soliloquised into prose, emotion turned into words - at other times it swirls along with ethereal sounds which echo around inside you, sounds turned into emotion. Yet half submerged within its flowing imagery resides a poignant philosophical question.

Berlin with its absurd wall, its Nazi past, its ideological split into east and west is an example par excellence of that existential stumbling block upon which some of the best existential thinkers have founded:- what can we do to make life endurable if the universe really has neither god, purpose, values or meaning ? Heidegger chose Nazi-ism and Sartre Marxism but both they and Berlin now lie testament to the failure of those answers. However this film's interplay of art and philosophy really does produce some quite interesting propositions. The hallmark of a good film is its capacity to trigger an encounter with your own soul and the Invisible Frame does just that.

The street musician at the beginning is a "Pied Piper" motif, heralding the passage from our everyday standpoint to an inner or psychic standpoint i.e the underworld. The enigmatic and beguiling cyclist, Tilda Swinton (Oscarwinner 2008),leads us through a suitably chthonic and labyrinthine landscape, transforming every scene into a tantalising question. She meditates on life, reads a book called "Alone in Berlin" and never asks for directions underlining that this is an inner journey from collective opinions towards individual insight. At the centre of this filmic labyrinth she finds a birds nest which is a Gnostic\Kabala symbol of our transpersonal centre or "higher self" which will come on occasion to the assistance of solitary individuals. This experience of the numinous brings about a synthesis of the conscious and conscious psyche and with it an awareness that we have a reason to exist. The red star monument reinforces this symbolism as the minotaur in Greek legend was called Asterion which means "star" and coins excavated at Knossos on Crete where the legend is set show a star at the centre of the labyrinth. Now the person with whom she has most contact, is a child with a bow and arrow. This lost son of Hamelin (like all the children you see)represents our curiosity, joy, openness and spontaneity which can be used to overcome self-deception, conventionality and fear. It rubs off on the cyclist because later she etches an arrow, rune-like, into the dirt. The arrow is a very old symbol whose meaning has survived through to our day in its use to depict North on maps – it points to the North star which never sets but remains above the horizon for travellers to orientate themselves – it is our guiding star. Like the picture of Vitruvian Man by Leonardo da Vinci, which she stops by, the cyclist has, through her journey, squared the circle and found a new psychological orientation. Her closing words "open sesame" bring her back out of the underworld and into our everyday world where she began, just like the circuit of the wall has brought her back to her starting point.

You may frown at my interpretation and the film's texts do literally speak for themselves but for me the film scores in its ability to coax you to turn inward and retrieve from the depths of your own being a reply to the absurdity of existence.


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