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Over Your Cities Grass Will Grow (U)

The ViewNewcastle Review

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Review byMatthew Turner13/10/2010

Two out of Five stars
Running time: 105 mins

Over Your Cities Grass Will Grow displays some unique and original artwork and offers an intriguing snapshot of Kiefer's working processes but Fiennes' largely observational approach soon wears thin and the film doesn't seem to have anything of its own to say.

What's it all about?
Directed by Sophie Fiennes, Over Your Cities Grass Will Grow focuses on the work of German conceptual artist Anselm Kiefer, who has spent the previous decade constructing elaborate, large-scale sculptures and installations at La Ribaute, his 35 hectare studio near Barjac in southern France. A derelict silk factory, La Ribaute consists of old industrial buildings, caves, woods and networks of underground tunnels, to which Anselm has added iron tunnels of his own, while filling the spaces with unique and distinctive artworks, most notably an open landscape of concrete towers that look like they could have belonged to a lost civilisation.

For the majority of the film, Fiennes' camera prowls around La Ribaute, taking in the artwork and the materials and eventually observing Kiefer and his assistants at work, all with no dialogue except Kiefer's instructions to his team. At the centre of the film, Kiefer gives a 20 minute interview to a German journalist (Klaus Dermutz) about the interpretation of his work, during which he talks at length about Heidegger's lecture on boredom, apparently without irony.

The Good
The artwork on display is genuinely fascinating, regardless of whether or not you're familiar with Kiefer's work – the image of the concrete block towers is particularly arresting. Occasionally, the process is intriguing too, such as when Kiefer creates what looks like his own volcano, using molten slag.

The Bad
However, there's only so long that you can watch an artist at work and Fiennes' aggressively observational approach soon wears thin, particularly later on when she imposes her own artistic view on it and films plates smashing on the floor, without explaining who's throwing them or what they'll be used for. Similarly, Kiefer's interview is too dry to offer any insight into his work and his personality is rather dull; consequently, the only interesting part of the interview comes at the end when two obviously-camera-hogging-but-pretending-not-to-be children run in.

On top of that, there's an atonal, frequently discordant soundtrack that the less than charitably inclined might argue was included purely to stop the audience falling asleep.

Worth seeing?
Whilst valuable as a document of the artist at work, Over Your Cities Grass Will Grow is frequently dull and ultimately lacks broader appeal as a documentary.

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Content updated: 05/11/2011 18:49

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