Winterstilte (Berlinale 2009)

I am aware of the fact that my Berlinale reviews are way overdue. I am also aware of the fact that I don’t care. So, for those who dig achronicity and who are just dying to read a review about skirts and a Swiss mountain village: allow me to make your day. So coming now and later: my Berlinale 2008 double review! Because I only went to see two movies and I don’t have that much to say about them!

Today: Winterstilte!

What do you get when you let a visual artist with no experience in directing whatsoever make a movie? Either you get utter trash, or you get the most brilliant movie of all times. But never, ever have I had such mixed feelings and love-have-annoyance towards a movie than I had towards Winterstilte. But more on that later.

The (very thin) premise: A Swiss mountain village. Five women – a mother and her four twentysomething daughters – mourn for the loss of their father who ironically fell down a mountain. There is little to no talking. But there is the following: a little girl that has nothing to do with the movie, the synchronized making of a broidery, an owl throwing up furballs in a straight line, a whole lot of mountains, a jester and sex with moose men. Yes, you read that right. All in seventy minutes of film.

And the truth of the matter is that this isn’t actually a bad movie. The above make for a nice symbolic movie where every piece of footage is so pretty it’ll make your jaws drop to the floor. When the camera pans up and down before the mother, there are no shocks in movement to be seen. This camera man was a genious. Also finding the way to bring these scenes from script to actual shots takes a hell of a visual director.

But that’s where it ends. End of the line. As it turns out, something that feels so symbolical on so many levels, can be a bit of a turd when the explanation comes afterwards. When the director came on stage afterwards for a little Q and A, it immediately became apparent that she had had no clue of what she was doing storywise. So the owl is wisdom and the girl is innocence, we get that. But why is the owl waking the girl? She could not tell for the life of her.

You know, if you use pretty metaphores in your movie but cannot explain then, I think you can just admit that to your audience. If people buy a ticket for your seventy minute long movie with about 20 sentences of text, they can take a bit of weirdness. Just admit that you approached it as if it were a moving picture and not an epic tale about the fairer sex.

In all, the movie itself was pretty good. Emphasize the pretty, and upgrade it to gorgeous. So she can do it. She just shouldn’t say her movie is something it is not. Because it isn’t.