Paula Beer and Franz Rogowski in 'Undine' (2020) Schramm Film
Undine (2020) © Schramm Film

Presented by ACMI


Christian Petzold | Germany | 2020 | M

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ACMI Member



Sat 2 Dec 2023

Fantasy, romance and history collide in the first film in Christian Petzold's elemental trilogy, starring Paula Beer and Franz Rogowski.

In a Berlin-Mitte cafe sits Undine (Paula Beer), a young historian. When her boyfriend Johannes (Jacob Matschenz) suddenly breaks up with her, she tells him, stone-faced: “If you leave me, I will have to kill you. You know that.” These are not so much the words of a jilted lover, as a stark warning from a water nymph. So goes the myth of the figure with whom Undine shares her name. As they part ways, Undine meets professional diver Christoph (Franz Rogowski), who is instantly smitten with her. A bond built on mutual understanding develops between water spirit and diver, but the very passion that binds them threatens to be their undoing.

Curator's Note

After closing the loop on his 'Love in the Time of Oppressive Systems' trilogy (2012–18) which followed the director's "Ghosts" trilogy before it (2000–07), Christian Petzold swiftly returned to screens with his is-it-or-isn't-it magic realism romance.

The romance is there in spades: Paula Beer and Franz Rogowski reunite after starring together in Petzold's previous film Transit and they bring their palpable chemistry with them. The magic realism is a bit more more difficult to pin down. The film steeps itself in European mythology, but keeps things fuzzy around the edges to intriguing and alluring effect.

Undine premiered at 70th Berlin International Film Festival, where Paula Beer received the Silver Bear award for Best Actress. At the time the film was believed to be a standalone work, which it can certainly be experienced as, but the film now has a sibling in Afire which together mark out the first two parts of the Petzold's new elemental trilogy.

– Reece Goodwin; Film & TV Curator

Format: DCP
Language: German with English subtitles
Source: Madman Entertainment
Courtesy: Madman Entertainment
Runtime: 91 mins

Event duration

91 mins



Mature themes and sex scene


Cinema 2, Level 2
ACMI, Fed Square

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