With the filmmaker Timm Kröger, German expressionism under LSD


What do you cling to when you’re 14 years old in Itzehoe, a deliciously boring little German town in Holstein, on the Danish border? To his old Legos, responds Timm Kröger whose first film in theaters is today, the astonishing Universal Theory . Lacking friends to play in front of his camera, the teacher’s son ( “My mother was too bad at French to hold a conversation, but good enough to teach it” ), who tries to learn the basics of the profession by watching the films of Stanley Kubrick, will make his debut with his bricks and his plastic characters.

Five years later, due to not having been admitted to the European Film College in Ebeltoft, Denmark (Joachim Trier’s school), the young man is heading towards mathematics. “For me, they have always been associated with metaphysical reflection. Sibelius, the composer, said that music expresses emotions that words alone cannot express. It is the same for mathematics with reason. They are the closest thing to a language for expressing the truth…” Maths will wait, Ebeltoft calls it in extremis, and here is Timm Kröger joining this “sort of Hogwarts, Harry Potter’s school, but for the movie theater “. “We learned everything about films, a melting pot of ideas and stories…”

There is something touching about watching wizards being born. At 38 years old, his films are a sort of personal UFO, with meticulous photography, stylistic choices marked to the point of exaggeration, sinuous stories as if written under acid… He says with a smile: “Cinema is closer to dreams . This is the only place where we can try to experience them collectively. I mean, other than the other option of actually putting LSD in the drinking water, but hey…”

In search of a personal language

Hanging on a wall in his Berlin home, from where he speaks to us – teletransported by videoconference – we can see his guitar. “I usually play shitty folk songs that I wrote myself. My way of fighting depression. But, in reality, what I listen to the most are film scores. I know, it can be a bit stupid. If music has evolved a lot, film music has remained stuck in a strange, almost pre-war era. I’m learning to listen to music from after the 1960s. But I’m more comfortable with older stuff, the late romantics, Mahler…”

There is something both very humble and very original in the way he talks about himself and his cinema. Neither dandy nor intellectual, in search of a personal language: “I find life quite funny, but, in art, I like melancholy, it’s the most interesting feeling for me. Enjoying the beautiful moments I live, while already imagining the time when this present will be long gone, that’s what makes it worth it. The beauty of time passing. And its tragic. »

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