The Ister is a 2004 film directed by David Barison and Daniel Ross.
was inspired by a 1942
lecture course delivered by the German philosopher Martin Heidegger
, published in 1984 as Hölderlins Hymne »Der Ister«
. Heidegger's lecture course concerns a poem by the German poet Friedrich Hölderlin
about the Danube River
The film The Ister travels upstream along the Danube toward its source, as several interviewees discuss Heidegger, Hölderlin, and philosophy. The film is also concerned with a number of other themes, including: time, poetry, technology, home, war, politics, myth, National Socialism, the Holocaust, the ancient Greek polis, Sophocles, Antigone, Agnes Bernauer, Edmund Husserl, the 1991 battle of Vukovar, and the 1999 NATO bombing of Yugoslavia.
features extensive interviews with the French philosophers Bernard Stiegler
, Jean-Luc Nancy
, and Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe
, as well as with the German film director Hans-Jürgen Syberberg
. Other interviews are conducted with a bridge engineer (Nemanja Calic), an amateur botanist (Tobias Maier), and a Romanian archaeologist (Alexandru_Suceveanu
The version of the DVD available outside North America also contains an extended interview with philosopher Werner Hamacher.
The film travels upriver: from the Danube Delta
, opening onto the Black Sea
, to the source of the river in the Black Forest
of southern Germany
, moving along the way through the Histria (Sinoe)
archaeological site, through Novi Sad
, and Dunaújváros
, and Vienna
and the Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp
. Also featured are the Walhalla temple
, the Befreiungshalle
, the tomb of Agnes Bernauer
, and the castle
to which Marshal Pétain
fled in 1945.
Notable places from Heidegger's own life which feature in the film include his birthplace in Meßkirch, his hut at Todtnauberg, and the lecture theatre at Freiburg University where he delivered his infamous rectorate address
Eventually the film arrives at Donaueschingen, and at the Breg and the Brigach, the two tributaries whose confluence marks the point at which the river becomes known as the Danube. The film then travels upstream along the Breg, past Vöhrenbach and Furtwangen, in search of the "true" mountain source of the Danube.
is divided into five chapters, plus a prologue and epilogue:
- Prologue. The myth of Prometheus, or The birth of technics. Bernard Stiegler tells the myth of Prometheus.
- Chapter 1. Now come fire! "In which the philosopher Bernard Stiegler conjugates technology and time, and guides us from the mouth of the Danube to the city of Vukovar in Croatia."
- Chapter 2. Here we wish to build. "In which the philosopher Jean-Luc Nancy takes up the question of politics and guides us through the Republic of Hungary."
- Chapter 3. When the trial has passed. "In which philosopher Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe conducts us from the technopolis of Vienna to the depths of the concentration camp at Mauthausen, confronting Heidegger's most provocative statement concerning technology."
- Chapter 4. The rock has need of cuts. "In which philosopher Bernard Stiegler returns to guide us deeper into the questions of mortality and history, as we emerge from Mauthausen to the Hall of Liberation in Germany."
- Chapter 5. What that river does, no-one knows. "In which the German artist and director Hans-Jürgen Syberberg guides us through the upper Danube, to the source of the river and beyond."
- Epilogue. Heidegger reads Hölderlin. Heidegger reads Hölderlin's hymn, "Der Ister."
Premiere and awards
premiered at the International Film Festival Rotterdam
on January 23, 2004. It has won two awards:
- A River Runs Through It, by Daniel Birnbaum
- Draggin' the River, by Carloss James Chamberlin
- Killing the Gatekeeper, by Matthew Clayfield
- The Ister, by Cheryl Danieri-Ratcliffe
- The Ister, by Tom Dawson
- Heidegger, Technology and Time: Review of the Film The Ister, by Matthew Del Nevo
- The Ister, by Gareth Evans
- The Ister: Search for the Source, by Hamish Ford
- The Ister, by Scott Foundas
- The Ister, by Philip French
- Flow of Rich Philosophy, by Philippa Hawker
- The Ister, by Philippa Hawker
- The Ister, by Eric Henderson
- Mystic River, by J. Hoberman
- Philosophers on Celluloid: Sartre, Beauvoir, Heidegger, and the French Heideggerians, by Jonathan Judaken
- Time and Tide (and Torrents of Discourse), by Peter Kemp
- Incisions on the Rock, by Adam Kirsch
- The Nonbiodegradable, by Dragan Kujundzic
- A Journey Up the Danube, Philosophy Included, by Nathan Lee
- The Ister, by Adrian Martin
- Time and the River (and Heidegger), by Peter Monaghan
- The Ister, by Deborah Nichols
- From Scardanelli to Orfée, by Scott Nygren
- L’homme sans qualités, by Gaël Pasquier
- The Camera in the Water Closet, by Dominic Pettman
- The Ister, by Jonathan Rosenbaum
- The Ister, by Jamie Russell
- Against the Stream: Remarks on the Film The Ister, by Galili Shahar
- The Ister, by Michael Sicinski
- In Search of Heidegger, by Ruth Starkman