My location via GPS


Undine, a nymph who only gets a soul if she‘s loved, works as a historian in the Berlin senate.


I was admittedly a bit worried. Both in TRANSIT as well as PHEONIX it was the mysterious, disappearing women who were more like ideas than people that I liked the least, and now comes a film about water sprite Undine – a nymph who can only get a soul if she‘s loved. But the worries were unfounded. Paula Beer as the water creature Undine is very present and contemporary. In the first scene she sits in a cafe, the conversation she had with her boyfriend Johannes (Jacob Matschenz) in which he broke up with her must‘ve taken place shortly before. “You can‘t do that,“ she says, “you know I have to kill you if you go.“ The way Paula Beer says it makes it sound normal, like the words of a very hurt woman who has just been left on a gray Berlin day.

The charm of Petzold‘s saga adaptation lies precisely in its ordinariness. Undine is a historian and explains the city‘s development to visiting groups from the Senat with the help of the models in the Märkisches Museum. The development of magnificent socialist buildings on the former Karl-Marx-Allee, for example, the further development of the city after the GDR collapsed, or the history of Berlin‘s City Palace, with its location at the edge of the city that gradually shifted to become a central anchor point of the urban design. Undine is interwoven with the city of Berlin, whose name is of Slavic origin and means “swamp“ or also the “dry spot“ of the swamp, as she explains on a tour. Maybe Undine is like the center of the city, which you can‘t exactly locate. Maybe the city has to be loved so it can get a soul just like Undine does, and takes revenge if it‘s betrayed or sold.

The academic monologues contribute to the deliberate dry sound of the film. Objectivity rules in all other matters too. The colors are clear and rather cold, the season is transitional and the time of day is around midday. It‘s neither sunny nor dark. The places are recognisable but not spectacular: the cafe at the Märkischen Museum, an apartment in the high-rises on Alex, an S-Bahn station, the central station. The dialogue is scarce and is only comprised of what‘s necessary – but what‘s necessary can also be poetic. Like Christoph‘s (Franz Rogowski) work as an industrial diver. Undine meets him on a tour and Christoph turns out to be a loyal boyfriend who could‘ve saved Undine‘s soul, but is it too late for that?

UNDINE is Christian Petzold‘s most playful film yet, a pretty good joke even made it to the script. But part of the fun is the amount of seriousness with which Petzold tells this story without differentiating between the prosaic and the magical. When a creature starts to take form in the muddy waters in front of Christoph, it is sometimes a water sprite, and sometimes a very fat catfish.

Hendrike Bake

Translation: Elinor Lewy


Deutschland/Frankreich 2020, 89 min
Genre: Drama
Director: Christian Petzold
Author: Christian Petzold
Distributor: Piffl Medien
Cast: Paula Beer, Franz Rogowski, Jacob Matschenz
FSK: 12
Release: 02.07.2020




  • OV Original version
  • OmU Original with German subtitles
  • OmeU Original with English subtitles

Die Inhalte dieser Webseite dürfen nicht gehandelt oder weitergegeben werden. Jede Vervielfältigung, Veröffentlichung oder andere Nutzung dieser Inhalte ist verboten, soweit die INDIEKINO BERLIN UG (haftungsbeschränkt) nicht ausdrücklich schriftlich ihr Einverständnis erklärt hat.