The Theory of Everything (2023) by Timm Kroeger

1962, Swiss Alps. A scientific conference, a mysterious discovery, graduate student Johannes falling in love with Karin, a charming jazz pianist who seems to know a lot about him, perhaps even too much. The Theory of Everything, directed by Venice 80-competition director Timm Kröger, is an atmospheric, quotable film that straddles the line between old and new.

Cinema and mystery

At the ends of the spectrum is cinema as an investigation with relative opacity and gray areas, and life reduced to the essentials, the ABCs. In a word, a mystery. Here the secret is the passe-partout Theory of everythingdirector’s film Timm Kroeger and written in tandem with Roderick Varich, in competition a Venice 80. Crafted at the intersection of existential ambiguity, sentimental angst and a solid genre structure, packaged in an elegant black-and-white, quotable (perhaps a pinch of more subtlety would have been helpful), a thriller that is not limited to exploring the inner world by vocation. characters, no, look around too, there is something to tell. We are talking about the complexity of life, about an infernal tangle, which is unreasonable to unravel; it must be accepted as it is. Rather, it’s about combining the old and the new to figure out how to present it in the most interesting way for the viewer.

Mystery in the Swiss Alps

The Theory of Everything, excerpt from the film
The Theory of Everything, excerpt from the film

Atmospheric cinema or situational cinema, an eternal game. Nostalgic and curious about the future, Theory of everything begins any day in 1962 somewhere in the Swiss Alps, far from civilization and there is a reason for this. Not any place, not just people. A mysterious Iranian scientist who will not be at the conference has gathered his colleagues to talk about a stunning scientific discovery that could change the world. It would seem that it is a “revolutionary theory of quantum mechanics,” but what exactly is unknown.

Johannes (Jan Bülow), a physics graduate student, arrives full of anxious curiosity, accompanied by his supervisor, Dr. Straten (Hanns Zischler). Here they meet the second’s rowdy and somewhat annoying colleague, Professor Bloomberg (Gottfried Breitfuss). General disappointment at the news of the guest of honor’s absence is understandable, but a paid-for week of skiing in the Swiss Alps should not be thrown away. Johannes is actually busy with something else. He follows Karin (Olivia Ross), a charming and mysterious jazz pianist who seems to know him inside out, which is inexplicable since they have never met before. Nevertheless. Secret after secret, the picture of the film becomes clearer, that is, more complex, with an inexorable method. The mystery of Karin, a corpse buried under the snow, strange clouds in the sky, top-secret experiments in the heart of the mountain. Atmospheric cinema, situational cinema. Theory of everything he chose a side. He chose the atmosphere. He chose mystery.

3D movie mystery

The Theory of Everything, still from the film
The Theory of Everything, still from the film

One of Timm Kroeger it’s almost a confession of faith. “His” secret is a three-dimensional phenomenon. It all begins with the inner world of the protagonist (it is unknown whether Johannes’ perception is a manifestation of genius or the hallucinations of a mind gone astray) to spill over into the world around him and even pollute the film, its wavering and contradictory nature. Thriller, science fiction, well-crafted satire, love story? There are no simple answers, the mystery casts its shadow everywhere. Johannes’ memories may be artificial. Behind Karin’s secrets there could be a more prosaic explanation: death is an optical illusion. Once again, the sky is full of strange clouds and there is no evidence that anything strange is happening inside the mountain. But we can’t be sure of the opposite either. That’s the point.

Yesterday and today

The Theory of Everything, Gottfried Breitfuss in a scene from the film
The Theory of Everything, Gottfried Breitfuss in a scene from the film

The film’s second magic word, thrown there almost by accident, reveals something about the precarious nature of Theory of everything. This is a multiverse, but the mystery of history prevents us from thinking too far ahead. Timm Kroeger refers to the difficult but not impossible reconciliation between the past and the (cinematic) present. The packaging is definitely of yesterday, in the anachronistic elegance of black and white, in the piercing sounds, echoes of the Hitchcock symphonies of Bernard Herrmann (his favorite composer). Quoting to the point of excess: obvious Hitchcock, existential melancholy and suspense, Lynchian dreamy delirium – these are the noble fathers of the director’s own film. But there is also something of the melancholic poetry of Chris Marker. Even a warm tribute, disguised as a parody, to Italian genre cinema of the sixties and seventies.

And this is yesterday, but there is also today Theory of everything. It would be multiverse bait, a mystery, to be fair, just mentioned, and a revaluation of the genre understood as an art form rather than a second-rate pastime for children of all ages. In 1962, no one would have dreamed of taking the existential musings of a science fiction film seriously. Then there is the question of gender representations, which Jan Bülow he is an example of vulnerable and nervous masculinity and Olivia Ross she is the muse and object of desire, but is in complete control (or so it seems). It’s just a shame that the mystery of a valuable and memorable film is slightly undermined by the difficulty with which the director manages to get his point across through the noise of cumbersome quotes.


The Theory of Everything, German film poster



Original name: Allem’s theory of death
Direction: Timm Kroeger
Country/year: Germany, Switzerland, Austria / 2023
Duration: 118′
Type: Drama, Thriller
Throw: David Bennent, Gottfried Breitfuss, Imogen Kogge, Peter Hottinger, Philipp Graber, Dana Herfurth, Dirk Böhling, Emanuel Waldburg-Zeil, Eva Maria Jost, Hanns Zischler, Jan Bülow, Joey Zimmermann, Johannes Nendwich, Jonathan Wirtz, Ladina von Frisching, Marie Goyette, Martin Gressmann, Martin Müller, Olivia Ross, Paul Wolf-Plottegg, Vivien Bailey
Film script: Timm Kroeger, Roderick Varich
Photo: Roland Stuprich
Assembly: Jann Anderegg
Music: Diego Ramos Rodriguez, David Schwyhart
Director: Rajko Yazbek, Lixie Frank, Victoria Stolpe, Heino Deckert, Timm Kröger, David Bohun, Dario Schoch, Tina Börner, Sarah Born
Production house: Barricades, Catpics Coproductions, Feature, Panama film
Distribution: Films inspired by films


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Born in Rome sometime in the 80s of the last century. Degree in Political Science. I love cinema, music, literature. Beginner marathon runner.

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