The Ister

Director: David Barison and Daniel Ross

2004. English subtitles. Colour. Digital video. 189 min.

In this extraordinary, award-laden epic documentary, philosophers turned filmmakers David Barison and Daniel Ross present an intoxicating intellectual journey up the River Danube. The film’s title derives from the ancient Greek name for the Danube, which was subsequently chosen by late-18th-century German poet Fridrich Holderlin as the title for his poem about the river. That poem became the subject of a lecture by Nazi sympathiser and intellectual Martin Heidegger, whose ideas are examined in the film by a wide range of contemporary philosophers, including Bernard Stiegler, Jean-Luc Nancy, Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe and controversial German filmmaker Hans-Jurgen Syberberg (Hitler: A Film from Germany). Barison and Ross package this philosophical feast with an impressive visual design, which pairs images captured on the journey to ideas being discussed onscreen.

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