I was really impressed by the movie. I've seen it two times now and wanted to right down some thoughts about it. So this is more to check if some of the ideas that I got from it resonate with other people. I have to admit the writing and the structure is a little shaky. So any tips and questions to clarify the piece would be much appreciated (it's a work in progress).
I know a lot of people few the movie as a plain horror movie. But there are a few points that I want to touch upon that in my view makes it a cultural rich art piece, with a lot of hidden treasures.
- The landscape in which the boys are wondering around.
- The painting of the woman in front of the window.
- How the boys in relation to the mother are photographed.
- The original title in German. Ich seh, Ich seh (which gives away more of what's going on then the English title)
- How Christian symbolism was used.
- The magnifying glass
So the boys go and wonder around the house in this Austrian landscape. Which to me gave some obvious historical references. The cave were they found the cat on what seemed to be a pile of skulls and bones, the Holocaust. The walk along the railroad, the railroad system that was used during the Holocaust. And the man in the burning field. The farmer was used a lot in 20th century nationalist propaganda). Now the photography of the boys in relationship to their mother is an interesting one, because this led me see the movie in a more clearer light. It's very present and repeated a lot true out the movie, but kind of hidden in juxtaposed images and images in them self. It's probably the most clear in the last scene of the movie, where the mother stands in between her twins with her arms on their shoulders. There, I think, is clearly an angel depicted. The twins being the wings and the mother then of course the body. Now if you look back at the film you will see this image of an angel reccurring a lot. Juxtaposed images where in one image with the twins are framed with space in between an the other image with the mother placed central of them. Or simply within the image itself where the mother is framed central with something that visually hinds at wings.
So this image of the angel along with the (historical) landscape made me think of Walter Benjamin and his concept of history. It's a kind of allegory based on a painting he saw of Paul Klee called Angelus Novus. Here is a excerpt from wiki.
A Klee painting named Angelus Novus shows an angel looking as though he is about to move away from something he is fixedly contemplating. His eyes are staring, his mouth is open, his wings are spread. This is how one pictures the angel of history. His face is turned toward the past. Where we perceive a chain of events, he sees one single catastrophe which keeps piling wreckage upon wreckage and hurls it in front of his feet. The angel would like to stay, awaken the dead, and make whole what has been smashed. But a storm is blowing from Paradise; it has got caught in his wings with such violence that the angel can no longer close them. The storm irresistibly propels him into the future to which his back is turned, while the pile of debris before him grows skyward. This storm is what we call progress.
The Painter Paul Klee is I think also important for this movie, because not only use this image of the angel but I think they kind of used his vision. He used a mythical surrealistic childlike style to comment or express his anxieties about the political climate during and after WW 1. If you look at his paintings, especially the one called "With the eagle". There is a lot of elements of him being used throughout the movie. The forest, the eagle (the eagle is a symbol of German nationalism) and the house. Also spherical shapes like the eye, the moon, a football, an empty bowl and the trampoline are constantly present. They even emphasize it in the scene where a delivery guy fills up the freezer with pees and salami pizza's.
Now the painting that's present in a lot of shots also kind of relates. What's fascinating about it is that we cannot see if the woman is looking out of the window or back at us. I am not a hundred percent sure of the origin of the painting. But it reminded me a lot of a post war German Painter Gerhard Richter, who used photorealism but obscured portraits by blurring them kind of similar how one does with a camera lens. Now this gives away a little of the dynamic that is present true out the whole movie. And how they for instance used pairs. The title, ich seh, ich seh ( I see, I see). Two events, WW 1, WW 2. Two styles or ways of expressing, Paul Klee, Gerard Richter. And the twins (Gemini).
The last thing I want to bring up, is how they used religious imagery. In the sequence the priest brings them home, they're a few shots of silhouette crosses in the sky. In the car hanging on the rearview mirror. And on a pole standing next to the road they drive on. If you look at both images in a more formal, it's a black gap/abyss in the sky in the shape of cross (also used by Klee in paintings). This to me is an image depicting the loss of Christian religion. Also if you look closely at role of the father(God) in the movie, he shines in absence. He is literally taken out of the picture book that represents the lives of the family.
In the narrative of the movie, the twins question their mothers identity, investigating her. At a certain point quit literal putting a magnifying glass upon her. And torturing her in this act with the concentrated light bundle. Disfiguring her face again. This relates to the post war generation discovering what their parents and grandparents were involved in during WW2. A common way to answer questions about their role during or knowledge of the holocaust was, "Wir haben es nicht gewusst". What is translated as, we didn't know. They just wanted to forget the war and move on with their lives, but were painfully and fanatically confronted by their children and grandchildren.
So I hope these ideas, observations made a little sense somewhere. And I hope to hear some different thoughts on the movie.