The Ister (film)  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

The Ister is a 2004 documentary film directed by David Barison and Daniel Ross.

The film is loosely based on the works of philosopher Martin Heidegger, in particular the 1942 lecture course he delivered, Hölderlins Hymne «Der Ister», concerning a poem, Der Ister, by the German poet Friedrich Hölderlin.

The story is led by the Greek creation-of-man myth as told by Protagoras.

Contents

Sources

The Ister was inspired by a 1942 lecture course delivered by the German philosopher Martin Heidegger, published in 1984 as Hölderlins Hymne «Der Ister». Heidegger's lecture course concerns a poem by the German poet Friedrich Hölderlin about the Danube River.

The film The Ister travels upstream along the Danube toward its source, as several interviewees discuss Heidegger, Hölderlin, and philosophy. The film is also concerned with a number of other themes, including: time, poetry, technology, home, war, politics, myth, National Socialism, the Holocaust, the ancient Greek polis, Sophocles, Antigone, Agnes Bernauer, Edmund Husserl, the 1991 battle of Vukovar, and the 1999 NATO bombing of Yugoslavia.

Interviewees

The Ister features extensive interviews with the French philosophers Bernard Stiegler, Jean-Luc Nancy, and Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe, as well as with the German film director Hans-Jürgen Syberberg. Other interviews are conducted with a bridge engineer (Nemanja Calic), an amateur botanist (Tobias Maier), and a Romanian archaeologist (Alexandru Suceveanu).

An extended interview with philosopher Werner Hamacher is also included as one of the "extra features" on the DVD.

Locations

The film travels upriver: from the Danube Delta, opening onto the Black Sea in Romania, to the source of the river in the Black Forest of southern Germany, moving along the way through the Histria (Sinoe) archaeological site, through Novi Sad in Serbia, Vukovar in Croatia, Budapest, Dunaföldvár, and Dunaújváros in Hungary, and Vienna and the Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp in Austria. Also featured are the Walhalla temple near Regensburg, the Befreiungshalle at Kelheim, the tomb of Agnes Bernauer, and the castle at Sigmaringen to which Marshal Pétain fled in 1945.

Notable places from Heidegger's own life which feature in the film include his birthplace in Meßkirch, his hut at Todtnauberg, and the lecture theatre at Freiburg University where he delivered his infamous Rectoratsrede (rectorial address).

Eventually the film arrives at Donaueschingen, and at the Breg and the Brigach, the two tributaries whose confluence marks the point at which the river becomes known as the Danube. The film then travels upstream along the Breg, past Vöhrenbach and Furtwangen, in search of the "true" mountain source of the Danube.

Structure

The Ister is divided into five chapters, plus a prologue and epilogue:

  • Prologue. The myth of Prometheus, or The birth of technics. Bernard Stiegler tells the myth of Prometheus.
  • Chapter 1. Now come fire! "In which the philosopher Bernard Stiegler conjugates technology and time, and guides us from the mouth of the Danube to the city of Vukovar in Croatia."
  • Chapter 2. Here we wish to build. "In which the philosopher Jean-Luc Nancy takes up the question of politics and guides us through the Republic of Hungary."
  • Chapter 3. When the trial has passed. "In which philosopher Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe conducts us from the technopolis of Vienna to the depths of the concentration camp at Mauthausen, confronting Heidegger's most provocative statement concerning technology."
  • Chapter 4. The rock has need of cuts. "In which philosopher Bernard Stiegler returns to guide us deeper into the questions of mortality and history, as we emerge from Mauthausen to the Hall of Liberation in Germany."
  • Chapter 5. What that river does, no-one knows. "In which the German artist and director Hans-Jürgen Syberberg guides us through the upper Danube, to the source of the river and beyond."
  • Epilogue. Heidegger reads Hölderlin. Heidegger reads Hölderlin's hymn, "Der Ister."

Soundtrack

Three excerpts from classical works feature in the film:

Premiere and awards

The Ister premiered at the International Film Festival Rotterdam on 23 January 2004. It has won two awards:

Additionally, Robert Koehler, film critic for Variety, listed The Ister as the second best film released theatrically in the United States in 2006.

See also




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "The Ister (film)" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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