Have you heard of a movie about a brilliant quantum physicist who travels to a remote place to test a groundbreaking theory that could change the world forever? Shot in stunning black and white, it features Nazis and a doomed love story.
If you think about it Oppenheimer, you’re a good two decades (in terms of timing) and a good hundred million dollars (in terms of budget) off. And yet, like a smaller, distant cousin of the Christopher Nolan blockbuster, that of German director Timm Kröger The theory of everything (The Theory of Everything) is also an elaborately crafted, challenging historical piece in which reality sometimes bends to the laws of modern physics.
The theory of everything
Lots of theories, not enough big bangs.
However, the similarities end here. Nolan’s film was scientifically based and stayed as close to historical events as technically possible. Kröger’s second feature film is more of a genre-hopping experiment, combining Hollywood sci-fi and film noir caper motifs with 1960s art-house aesthetics to tell a stunning story. The result is more admirable than intriguing, losing track of old-fashioned hoaxes (mad professors, evil spies, a femme fatale) that become eerily phantasmagorical as the plot builds. After the premiere in Venice’s main competition, other festivals and European theaters await.
Like his debut in 2014 The Council of BirdsKröger’s beautifully done sequel is a little fantasy fantasy that plays with Germany’s troubled and mysterious past. birds takes place in the 1930s when the Nazis began to take power. theory is set in the early ’60s, almost two decades after World War II, and yet there still seem to be a few fascists in old Europe. (The post-war black-and-white fantasy aesthetic is also reminiscent of Lars Von Trier’s 1991 film. centropa.)
Following a simulated prologue from a TV talk show, the film jumps back to 1962, when talented young physicist Johannes Leinert (Jan Bülow) travels to a quantum mechanics conference in the Swiss Alps with his supervisor (Hanns Zischler). When they arrive at a remote, snow-covered lodge, it looks like this The glowAt the Hotel Overlook, they learn that the scientist who was supposed to demonstrate an earth-shattering new theory has disappeared. Indeed, this is just one of many, many strange things that will happen as Johannes gradually learns the truth about a place from which he may never escape.
Kröger draws on a number of film references to drive the narrative, using high-contrast black and white imagery by Roland Stuprich, reminiscent of what films looked like back then, and an uninterrupted score by Diego Ramos Rodriguez, reminiscent of great studio composers such as Bernard Herrmann or Max Steiner. As such names imply, Hollywood was a heavily Germanic place in its heyday, and those influences abound The theory of everythinga German thriller with a supposed retro-Hollywood feeling.
The effect can be more tricky than captivating, especially when Leinert crosses paths with a dark and beautiful jazz pianist (Olivia Ross) who inexplicably knows details about his past and embarks on a relationship that seems doomed from the start. He then meets an elderly physicist (Hanns Zischler) who was supposedly found dead in the mountains, only to be resurrected, cloned or who knows what, when he reappears. The story takes so many twists and turns that it eventually loses its credibility factor and any real emotional impact. But as a stylistic exercise, it has some powerful moments.
Right off the bat, director and co-writer Roderick Warich lets us know that what’s happening in the Alps might have something to do with the multiverse – an idea Johannes mentions on the talk show before leaving the set. For anyone who has been to the cinema in the last five years, the M-word will immediately get some eye-rolling: Between Everything everywhere at once, dr strangethe animated Spiderman In many films and countless other films and series, the concept is now pretty worn out. In any case, it’s not intriguing anymore, which makes the novelty factor of this film less obvious.
What Kröger really shows in terms of originality is the way he combines stunning images – the director is a cinematographer himself, with credits including: The problem with childbirth – with a plot reminiscent of B-movies of the time, especially post-war science fiction films. In that sense, his latest work is more like Tim Burton or Spielberg than Nolan, whose films are shot and edited in the most contemporary way possible. The theories in theory It might not all work out, but the film shows a director who knows how to give a new voice to old Hollywood themes.