The talk show host’s joke isn’t bad, but it also shows a complete lack of understanding: “That was Johannes Leinert, who lives in his own world, it’s nice that he stopped by ours.” At that moment, the exasperated Leinert disappears from the television studio, long before the end of the show. It wasn’t planned that way.
The very deranged-looking guest in the smoky, plush show sometime in the 1970s didn’t make it easy for the host – but the host didn’t make it easy for him either in his derogatory, disinterested manner.
Complicated science versus TV blah blah – worlds collide
However, the topic was also highly complex. The physicist Leinert wanted or should present his novel entitled “The Theory of Everything” at the behest of the publisher. Quantum theory, parallel realities, complicated science here and superficial TV chatter there: worlds collided.
What remains unclear after the hasty departure: Was the talk show guest a fantasist with excessive imagination or a brilliant scientist with sensational findings?
Is this the only possible world, or are there others where things would have been different?
Jan Bülow as physicist Johannes Leinert in “The Theory of Everything”
The cinema audience also asks itself the same question from start to finish in Timm Kröger’s cinematic drama, which is enigmatic in the best sense of the word, with the title “The Theory of Everything”. At the Venice Film Festival, Kröger, who was born in 1985 (“Zerrumpelt Herz”), started as the only German candidate in the competition and was well received internationally.
The beginning of the film in the TV studio takes place years after the actual plot, but it impressively shows the sad development that the protagonist has had, who does not necessarily believe in the cohesion of the universe. Leinert raises key doubts about the conditions of our existence: “Is this the only possible world, or are there others in which things would have turned out differently?”
The congress in the Alps takes on something nightmarish
We get to know the film hero as a hopeful doctoral student. Leinert (Jan Bülow, known as the title character from “Lindenberg! Do your thing”) is on the way to the Swiss Alps in 1962 with his narrow-minded and possibly envious doctoral supervisor Julius Strathen (Hanns Zischler) for a conference that is eagerly awaited by the experts.
An Iranian colleague is supposed to give a supposedly groundbreaking lecture on quantum physics there. That’s what it says. But the report will never happen. The speaker doesn’t arrive, and soon there’s no mention of him at all.
So Strathen and Leinert are stuck in the snowy mountains. Neither of them gets bored in this thriller, which is driven by stimulating music (Diego Ramos), especially not Leinert.
The mysterious piano player Karin (Olivia Ross) becomes close to him and knows more about him than she can know. A renowned physicist (Gottfried Breitfuß) is killed and possibly returns to the living. There are disturbing glimpses into mountain tunnels and also into the National Socialist past. Fears about the consequences of nuclear power are being fueled; uranium was once mined deep in the mountains.
Director Kröger indulges in the history of cinema
Director Kröger produces doubts and uncertainties with cold desire. Again and again he creates contradictions that leave viewers irritated.
Kröger practically revels in cinema history. The associations range from Orson Welles (well-guarded men lurking in the shadows, as in “The Third Man”) to David Lynch (turns that are difficult to understand rationally, as in “Lost Highway”). But the focus is on Alfred Hitchcock’s thrillers – with a subtle but crucial difference: in his film, shot in high-contrast black and white, Kröger does not provide clear resolutions like the Grandmaster.
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For example, in his thriller “Spellbound – I’m Fighting for You” (1945), Hitchcock only played with the subconscious, which was one of the first Hollywood films ever to be embedded in a psychoanalytic environment based on Sigmund Freud. And in “Vertigo” Hitchcock discovered the existence of the blonde doppelgangers and thereby discovered a crime.
It doesn’t just remain a post-ironic repetition of what we already know.
Timm Kröger, director, about his film “The Theory of Everything”
Kröger draws the audience into his metaphysical conspiracy world, in which many things seem familiar and yet originally conceived. “The film doesn’t just quote, it digs into and stirs our cinematic memories,” Kröger told the editorial network Germany (RND) before the Venice premiere. “It doesn’t just remain a post-ironic repetition of what you already know.” The audience may discover references to films that they have never seen.
It’s easy to get lost in this harshly lit Alpine thriller, in which so much remains undeciphered. Been to the cinema. Device rare
“The Theory of Everything” Director: Timm Kröger, with Jan Bülow, Hanns Zischler, Olivia Ross, Gottfried Breitfuß, 118 minutes, FSK 6