The Slow Build
By: Matthew Battles | Categories: Kudos

The Fort – Sundance 2012 from Calavera on Vimeo.

I thought of Andrew Renzi’s short film The Fort after seeing Michael Haneke’s Amour this weekend. On the surface, the two works are unalike: Haneke’s aged protagonists live in a genteel apartment where nature only makes occasional intrusions — cut flowers, a lost pigeon — while Renzi’s much-younger characters play out their scene in a forest awakening to verdant, sodden Spring. But Renzi’s piece, a 2012 Sundance selection, partakes of the same quality of disquiet that hangs over every Haneke shot, as well as a measure of the Austrian filmmaker’s patience, a slowness that is anything but languor.

You will wonder what has transpired between the boy and the man; I think the truth lies not in any disturbing revelation, but in quiet, contained grief. It’s suggested by a long macro shot, at about 4:20, of a mound of clover or cress, vitally green, which for me evokes a remark made by Adolf Loos on the origins of architecture: “If we find a mound in the forest…then we become solemn and something tells us: somebody lies buried here….” This low mound is not the only structure in The Fort, but it may be the most telling one; and I appreciate the way Renzi lingers on it.

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Matthew Battles, Hilobrow's cofounder, has written about language, history, and the natural world for many publications. When he makes poems, he puts them here. A fellow at Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet and Society, he's also the author of Library, An Unquiet History.