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The Ister
Directed by David Barison and Daniel Ross
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In 1942, at the height of World War II, Martin Heidegger, the most influential philosopher of the twentieth century, delivered a series of lectures on The Ister, Friedrich Holderlin's poem about the Danube River, which referred to the waterway by its ancient Greek name.

Eight years later, as the tide of the war was turning against Germany, Heidegger spent the summer semester lecturing on the poetry of Friedrich Holderlin, focusing on his poem The Ister. Rather than an esoteric retreat into the realm of aesthetics, Heidegger's lectures directly addressed the political, cultural and military chaos facing Germany and the world in 1942.

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THE ISTER takes up some of the most challenging paths in Heidegger's thought, as we journey from the mouth of the Danube River in Romania to its source in the Black Forest. However controversial Heidegger remains, his thought remains alive in the work of some of the most remarkable thinkers and artists working today, four of whom discuss the contemporary social relevance of Heidegger, including Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe, Jean-Luc Nancy, Bernard Stiegler, and filmmaker Hans-Jürgen Syberberg.

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Winding through the shattered remains of the heart of the new Europe and the ghost of the old one, the Danube itself is the question of the film. In addition to its mentally stimulating, at times even challenging, philosophical discourse, THE ISTER features stunning natural vistas along the nearly 2,000-mile length of one of Europe's major rivers, as well as ancient Greek ruins, the Mauthausen concentration camp, Yugoslavian bridges devastated by NATO bombings, and King Ludwig's Walhalla temple.

By drawing the places and times of the river into a constellation with Heidegger's thought, THE ISTER invites the viewer to participate in some of the most provocative questions facing Europe and the world today. These questions - of home and place, culture and memory, of technology and ecology, of politics and war - concern us today just as much as they did Heidegger in 1942.

"A probing, evasive meditation on time, culture and change, images and actions, and the necessity for both."—Film Comment

"Exposes some of the most powerful transformative currents and possibilities at play in the philosopher's reading of the Western tradition."—Alejandro A. Vallega, Author of 'Heidegger and the Issue of Space: Thinking on Exilic Grounds'

"A revelation!"—Senses of Cinema

"Possesses a visual beauty that's rare in the documentary field... An impressive cinematic tribute to the river from which it takes its name."—Channel 4 (UK)

"A stimulating three-hour journey in time, space and the mind."—The Observer

2005 Heidegger Symposium, University of Dallas
2005 WaterWays Conference on the Confluence of Art, Science, Policy, & Philosophy
Best Film, Quebec Film Critics, 2004 Montreal Intl Festival of New Cinema
Le Prix du Groupement National des Cinémas de Recherche, 2004 Marseille Intl Documentary Festival
2004 Rotterdam Intl Film Festival
2004 Vancouver Intl Film Festival

189 minutes / Color
English; French / English subtitles
Release: 2005
Copyright: 2004

For individual consumers (home video)

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This DVD is sold with a license for institutional use and Public Performance rights.

Subject areas:
Ethics, Geography, Germany, Heidegger, History (World), Philosophy, Political Theory, Science and Technology, Western Europe, World War II

Related Links:
Key Figures in THE ISTER
Read a Review from The Chronicle of Higher Education
Get More Information at the Film's Website
View a PDF of the Film's Press Kit

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