A Weather house is a German folk art weather device that shows different scenes or characters depending on humidity.
Weather House the film is a minimalist art film with an unusual narrative structure. It presents a set of characters in a house whose location is never discussed. The characters appear to interact and exchange dialog but often the conversation doesn’t follow. It’s never clear if they are actually entirely aware of one another or perhaps only intermittently so. That the conversations don’t follow may be a comment on a need to try to explain things even when they are not understood.
Each character seems to have his/her own focus: one is recording sounds, one is listening to a small radio, one man answers most questions by pointing out that another is an engineer.
We watch the characters as the house experience weather extremes. There are interstitial scenes showing the weather dramatically changing, noting time and barometric pressure. The temperature swings wildly over a wide range in short periods.
Several times people die and the group ceases referring to them with pronouns, seeing and speaking of the bodies as only objects. Characters do not react when someone is in deep distress nor seem particularly affected when one dies. One man drags the bodies outside after each death.
There’s a card game with dinosaur playing cards in which a man points out the drawing is from the cenozoic era, which is our current era. Perhaps reminding us that our time is not the first and won’t be the last. The Earth changes.
One man insists on destroying the shared table despite the others saying the table is necessary. The same man threads metal cables through the house as a grounding wire. One of the women tells the man he is not needed and he dies.
This film is a deep meditation on human response, or lack of it, to environmental change. This may be a metaphor for climate change or for any outside force we can’t control. If this was an adventure film there might be conversations in other rooms laying out the challenges and solutions the group is trying. Perhaps we’re only see part of the process. Perhaps the house is meant to refer to a country with it’s own borders, culture, beliefs, and symbolism.
It’s thought provoking puzzling through what the metaphors could be and how they might illuminate life, though clearly this is not meant to be typical Saturday afternoon popcorn movie fare. As impenetrable as it ultimately is, the languid pace and intellectual challenge make Weather House worth the effort.
Weather House (2017) Directed by Frauke Havemann, Eric Schefter: Written by Mark Johnson Starring Inga Dietrich, Erik Hansen, Sabine Hertling
Rating note: The difficulty in rating an avant-garde art film like Weather House comes in regarding the context of what it’s being compared to. If the reference standard is Evil Dead 2, then it’s a 1. If the reference standard is Eraserhead, then it’s an 8.
Learn more about Weather House at the website of Berlin base art group On Air.