The world today is a mess. Because of the conflicts that are happening in different parts of the world citizens are fleeing their countries. Fleeing from countries like Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Eritrea they are coming in large numbers to European countries like Germany, Turkey, Greece, and Italy. Such a large influx of immigrants who are fleeing from, for the most part, from radical groups like Isis and the Taliban are looked at with suspicion. There is no other way to look at it other than as a crisis.
As a result of all this around Europe the response has been to build security structures to make residents of the countries receiving the immigrants/refugees feel more secure. Europe is going through a border crisis. These borders must be looked at as physical and virtual.
Irish director Tadhg O’Sullivan has decided to look at this in a very unique way. He has taken a short story called The Great Wall of China written by Franz Kafka in 1917. It was a piece concerning the building of that monumental structure. Seeing the link between that wall and the ones going up today, O’Sullivan has combined a reading in German of Kafka’s almost 100-year-old words with scenes of today’s structures.
Kafka’s story deals with China and the belief that the Mongols from the North were to be feared. A wall was built to keep them out. Now, the refugees from the south are those that are feared and who many Europeans want to keep out. O’Sullivan’s long shots show migrants trying to get over borders in Germany and Spain.
Besides the obvious message of the fear of the outsiders, the film also deals with the idea of power. The powerless and the powerful. It is never clearer who has it and who doesn’t then when looking at the barbed wires and tall fences being constructed. Some scenes are of detention centres in different countries. Clear delineation of who are the haves and who are the have nots. The refugees are fleeing violence and oppression only to be oppressed by the governments of the countries they are escaping to. We see the tough conditions in the detention centres and then the next shot is of the major cities in these countries. The contrast is jarring. You see many young men just sitting there with nothing to do. Wasting prime years of their lives due to ridiculous government red tape developed to keep them away from the European population.
The constant in the film is shots of fences, gates and walls. How these things are used to separate is pounded home…silently but effectively.
A film that is addressing one of the most important issues facing humans today.