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.



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.