Metacritic (7/10), Letterboxd (3.5/5), Imdb.com (7/10), TMDB.com (3.5/5)

Imagine having the vision – and the means – to build your own little world, one that reflects your philosophical, artistic and personal sensibilities. If you’re German multi-media artist Anselm Kiefer, it’s not only entirely possible, but also an undertaking that feels as though it’s been compelled into existence, as seen in this poetic new documentary from filmmaker Wim Wenders. This inventive, intimate look into the life, work and beliefs of this artistic icon examines how his upbringing and major influences shaped the person Kiefer ultimately became, one of the most prolific, diverse and challenging creatives of the 20th Century. Through interviews with the artist, archive and contemporary footage of his work, and interpretive reenactments of Kiefer as an eminently curious youth and as a bold innovator as a young adult, viewers witness how he emerged as a force to be reckoned with in the art world in the nature, content and messages of his creations. The film explores his mythological, metaphysical and philosophical insights, along with his relentless passion for artistically depicting Germany’s role in World War II, an effort that many of his fellow countrymen found off-putting but that he insisted must not be forgotten or ignored, despite widespread public opinion to the contrary. Then there’s the establishment of his Gesamtkunstwerk – or “universal artwork” – at his 35-hectare compound community in Barjac, France, an attempt at manifesting a work of art incorporating as many different types of creations as possible, truly a world unto itself. All of this is accomplished through a narrative that’s more thematically driven than one providing a rote laundry list of accomplishments. Because of this, viewers unfamiliar with Kiefer’s work, history and influences may find the film somewhat difficult to follow at times, but that’s more than compensated for by Wenders’ stunning cinematography, especially its brilliant employment of 3-D technology, a practice virtually unheard of in documentary work. Given the unconventional nature of “Anselm,” the picture clearly won’t appeal to everyone, including those enamored with documentaries. However, for those seeking something different, inspiring and beautiful to look at, this one is made for you.