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Politics in The River and The Wall (2017)
(pp. 99-111; DOI: 10.23692/iMex.18.7)

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Prof. Dr. Martina Moeller

Martina Moeller worked from 2003 to 2006 as lecturer in Film Studies at the International Summer School of the University of Kassel (Germany) and from 2006 to 2010 as lecturer in German at the University of Provence (Aix-Marseille I, France). In 2010, she completed her PhD on German rubble films at Anglia Ruskin University. She has published articles on visual style, narration, religious aesthetics and Romantic discourse in rubble films as well as on Intercultural subjects. Her PhD was published under the title Rubble, Ruins and Romanticism: Visual Style, Narration and Identity in German Post-War Cinema by Transcript Verlag (Germany) in 2013. Moeller has also organised several international conferences in France, Germany, Morocco and Tunisia. Publications include Interkulturelle Kommunikation in Texten und Diskursen (with Ulrike Dorfmüller published in 2010 by Peter Lang Verlag, Frankfurt), Kunst und Stacheldraht with Cécile Bonnet, OFLAG VI A in Soest 2009, and Interkulturalität in Theorie und Praxis in May 2013 in Rabat. From 2011 to 2016, Moeller worked as a DAAD lecturer at the Université Mohammed V in Rabat, Morocco; since 2016 she has been working for the DAAD at the Université de la Manouba in Tunis, Tunisia.

This study examines in how far Ben Masters manages to combine in his nature film The River and the Wall (2017) two goals: to document the borderlands and to explore the potential impact of a future wall on the natural environment. In this context, the study explores in detail how discourses around nature, border fences and immigration are presented in the film and to what extend they are critical of Trump’s wall project. The author comes to the conclusion that the film’s suggestion to create a bi-national park along the borderlands is strongly reminiscent of John Muir’s romantic legacy. However, precisely this romanticized focus on nature seems to undermine the political discussion, because it marginalizes key aspects of the debate, from illegal migration to drug trafficking, in its nostalgic proposal to go back to cowboy ‘roots’.


Este estudio examina hasta qué punto Ben Masters logra combinar en su documental sobre la naturaleza The River and the Wall (2017) dos objetivos: documentar las tierras fronterizas y explorar el impacto potencial de un futuro muro en el entorno natural. En este contexto, el estudio analiza en detalle cómo los discursos sobre la naturaleza, las vallas fronterizas y la inmigración se presentan en la película y en qué medida son críticos del proyecto del muro de Trump. El autor llega a la conclusión de que la propuesta de la película de construir un parque binacional a lo largo de la frontera recuerda mucho el legado romántico de John Muir. Sin embargo, precisamente este enfoque romántico en la naturaleza parece socavar la crítica política, ya que margina aspectos clave del debate, desde la migración ilegal hasta el narcotráfico, en su propuesta nostálgica de volver a las ‘raíces’ del vaquero.