Alain Berliner | The Wall

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Alain Berliner

The Wall

The Wall (1998) shows the same bursts of fantasy in the midst of real events as Berliner's other films. The dialogue here explicitly calls this "Magic Realism", and links it to the Surrealist paintings of Magritte. His heroes tend to be visionary. They are seeing and experiencing people and events that are invisible to the other more average characters in the film. These visions tend to dramatize the inner feelings and world of the hero. However, they do not simply show the hero's ideas, in the way the landscapes in a J.G. Ballard story convey the hero's inner state. Berliner's fantasy scenes also challenge the hero. The often show him strange things that stir up his feelings. At the center of these visions is another person. This imaginary character, Pam in Rose and the father in The Wall, tend to constantly be putting meaningful ideas in front of the hero. Pam's ideas tend to be positive, and the father's negative, so the two are not completely analogous.

The Wall also shows Berliner's incisive, extreme satire about very serious subjects. Berliner's heroes tend to be persecuted by society. They are members of groups suffering discrimination, and in a very active form. Everyone who meets them immediately goes after them hammer and tongs, and with full support of the other members of society. The persecutions are public, fierce and self-righteous. They can seem like attacks from a mob. But they are also supported ideologically by society in a way that mob rule usually is not.

Berliner likes modern consumer goods high technology. There are references to the Internet and video games. The Internet and other advanced computer technology tends to show up explicitly in the works of European directors - see also Ian Softley's Hackers (1995) and Alejandro Amenábar's Open Your Eyes (1997), not to mention the faxes in Wong Kar-Wai's Fallen Angels (1995). By contrast, for all its hype in the US, it seems to actually appear much less in American films.