Fulvue Drive-In.com
Current Reviews
In Stores Soon
In Stores Now
DVD Reviews, SACD Reviews Essays Interviews Contact Us Meet the Staff
An Explanation of Our Rating System Search  
Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Politics > Berlin Wall > Communism > History > Something To Do With The Wall (1991/First Run DVD)

Something To Do With The Wall (1991/First Run DVD)


Picture: C     Sound: C     Extras: C-     Documentary: B-



In 1991, Jean-Luc Godard made a film called Germany Year 90 Nine Zero, which among many other things examined the rise and fall of The Berlin Wall and with Eddie Constantine as Lemmy Caution (the pulp detective Godard added to his 1965 classic Alphaville, reviewed elsewhere on this site) asked serious questions about that wall and how its loss detrimentally erases the crimes that built it to being with.  A few years before, Ross McElwee & Marilyn Levine started work on a film about it too.


At first, Something To Do With The Wall (1991) was being made about the Wall and how it seemed it would be there forever.  They shot a great deal of 16mm film as part of their trip and when they arrived back home, assuming the wall would stand for a very long time, had extenuating circumstances that put the editing and final cut of the film on the back burner.  When it was torn down along with the collapse of communism and The Soviet Union, they returned and finished this work.


Ross McElwee has been more comical than anything else in his work (Sherman’s March, Bright Leaves) so I hoped he would be more serious and less silly in approaching the subject matter and he is more than expected… at first.  Then, after establishing what is going on at Checkpoint Charlie (the now-defunct crossing zone between West and East), it starts to loose focus and decide to center on eccentric characters that take it away from the real story of the Wall and the serious implications thereof.


Yes, some of the protesters, eccentric or not, are at least somewhat brave and maybe unwise, but the fact that it soon fell shows the futility of what was going on to some extent.  The resuming footage has no choice but to switch back to the actual event and its gravity, but it is not always enough to save this work as a whole.  However, it is worth seeing for the better moments and may be the best thing McElwee will ever make.


The 1.33 X 1 image is aged, but only because this is an older analog transfer of the 16mm material.  Considering the historic value, this deserves to be cleaned, restored and retransferred in HD.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono also shows its age and some of it is from being a generation or so down, while the actual recording shows the limits of the equipment used and location audio limits.  Extras include text Filmmaker’s Notes, Filmmaker’s Biography and a piece on more titles from McElwee which we have already reviewed elsewhere on this site.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


 Copyright © MMIII through MMX fulvuedrive-in.com