Dusseldorf Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck tries to present a new masterpiece with his artist biography "Werk ohne Autor" – and fails exactly.
"Do not look away!", The aunt had always asked the little cousin, but now she is being forcefully taken to the ambulance and she will soon be the victim of the National Socialist euthanasia program. The boy looks down, but holds his lightly spread hand half arm length. The cruel reality behind it remains visible, but its contours fade, and the alienation makes the view bearable for the child – but it burns deeply into his memory.
Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck has identified this scene as a key moment in his new film "Werk ohne Autor". On the one hand it documents the traumatic experience that the boy and the later painter Kurt Barnert will follow for life. On the other hand, her gaze through her spread hand shows how the artistic intervention compensates for the painful experience of reality.
In his more than three-hour work, Donnersmarck looks for the sources of artistic creation and does so against the background of the violent German history of the 20th century. He joins his first feature film "The Lives of Others", which twelve years ago won the Oscar for the best non-English film twelve years ago and opened the door to Hollywood.
With "The Tourist" he then gave his disappointing American debut in 2010, which was almost unanimously rejected by international critics, although it grossed $ 278 million gross thanks to the concentrated star power of Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp. After that it was quiet for a long time for the German director, who now presents his next work from the film-friendly house.
As a new source of inspiration, Donnersmarck presented the biography of the painter Gerhard Richter, who was generously filled with fictional culminations. The film starts with a tour of the Nazi exhibition "Degenerate Art", in which Aunt Elisabeth (Saskia Rosendahl) takes ten-year-old Kurt. The works of modernity, collected here by the Nazis to destroy them afterwards, impress the boy, although the ideological excesses of the museum guide (Lars Eidinger) make him doubt his desire to become a painter himself. Shortly thereafter, the beloved aunt, who suffers from schizophrenic disorders, is arrested and killed at the end of the war in the concentration camp.
Donnersmarck shows death in the gas chamber, where he is covered with bombastic orchestral tones. He does not get enough of this in a parallel montage, which breaks the murder in the concentration camp with the bombing of Dresden and the death of Kurt & brother's brother on the battlefield side by side. The fact that he uses this visual similarity of extermination camps and Allied bombing on a popular right-wing extremist argumentation pattern, Donnersmarck seems unaware in the daze of staging. But can it really be that a director who works so meticulously overlooks this?
Donnersmarck, however, has something higher in mind. Very high Kurt (Tom Schilling) climbs into the tops of an oak, where he is blown not only by the wind, but also by the breath of artistic inspiration. "I understood how everything is connected to each other! That everything is connected!" He then says to the father. Undoubtedly we have experienced the birth of a genius. But in the first place, the young genius has to go to the art academy in the even younger GDR, where he develops into the propaganda painter of the New Age & # 39; and continue proud workers and peasants in more than life-size murals.
He falls in love with fashion designer Elisabeth (Paula Beer). This is only the daughter of that SS gynecologist Professor Seeband (Sebastian Koch), who – who Kurt does not know – has ordered the murder of his aunt with his medical & # 39; report & # 39 ;. Soon the artist gets too tight in the SED party corset and he flees to the west, where the avant-garde celebrates happy festivals at the Düsseldorf art academy.
A teacher in a hat and fisherman's jacket, resembling Joseph Beuys, lets Kurt take a deep breath. And when he finally starts to paint his picture of his aunt and alienates it by blurring, it is again the wind that closes a shutter, the projection of the SS doctor directly on that of his victim and generates a moment of revelation for the painter. The trauma is converted into art. Even if it were only in real life that Traumabewältigungen would be as simple as they are always presented in a cinema-addicted by Katharsis.
The third, very long feature film by Donnersmarck comes in almost every scene with the gesture of the masterpiece, where the simplicity of so many pieces of knowledge is not painted without craftsmanship. In technical perfection, excellent assembly, clean interlocking plotto applications and meticulous historic equipment, "Werk ohne Autor" appears on the screen. But although it wants to talk about the artistic self-healing powers of the soul, the smug film artwork testifies to a certain lack of soul and threatens to suffocate on its own perfectionist calculus.