If you’ve been watching CBS’ Stephen King summer series, “Under the Dome,” you may experience a dèjá-vu rush in the opening scenes of this spectacularly spooky German-Austrian film.
Both “Under the Dome” and “The Wall” deal with a community that’s mysteriously cut off from the rest of humanity. An invisible, glasslike and quite impenetrable wall, apparently created by supernatural forces, separates the characters from much of the scenery.
The chief difference is that the television show concerns itself with the interactions of several people, while the movie restricts itself to one nameless woman (played by Martina Gedeck) whose only close companion is a dog.
It’s a very big difference. Indeed, it largely dictates how their stories will be told — and what kind of stories will be told. The lone woman’s adventure inevitably suggests Robinson Crusoe. The survivors in the small-screen story are more concerned with small-town melodrama.
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In “The Wall,” you almost expect Julie Andrews or at least a few yodelers to pop out of the Austrian forests — though the talented first-time director, Julian Polsler, quickly establishes a haunted mood that builds and never loses its hallucinatory grip.
Gedeck, the persecuted heroine of “The Lives of Others,” gives a heroic performance, holding the screen almost by herself. Once her companions disappear and the wall takes over, her character is left largely on her own, blending into the scenery and pondering her fate.
“The Wall” is not without its difficult-to-explain moments — a time-standing-still image, an overly subjective episode — but that only helps it retain a sense of mystery. It’s a shudder-inducing original.
John Hartl: firstname.lastname@example.org