Guess who’s coming to dinner? Why, it’s Pope Benedict XV, of course. Roll out the red carpet, disrobe the young bairns.
Revered indie-doc filmmaker Thomas Heise’s Die Lage passively follows the monotonous preparation of the Pope’s visit to the German city of Erfurt. Instead of the expected ‘Popemania’ hysteria, the film cooly projects the incessant organisation of the chaps’ stay, making such preparations seem more like a chore than the second coming.
Is it actually entertaining? Of course not. Adopting many of the conventional traits of cinema verite and observational documentary, Die Lage accentuates the space and separation we have from setting and scenario, meaning that it’s the filmic equivalent of watching paint dry. However, without even catching a glimpse of The (supposedly) Holy Father, as an audience, we feel cheated and are left tightroping over the wholly tedious affair.
THE GOOD: On a purely aesthetic level, the black and white filming is lush.
THE BAD: The lack of willingness to entertain or pertain audience enthusiasm is increasingly frustrating and moreover insulting.