Germany, Austria, Switzerland


1962. Johannes Leinert (Jan Bülow), together with his doctoral advisor (Hanns Zischler), travels to a physics congress in the Swiss Alps, where an Iranian scientist is set to reveal a "groundbreaking theory of quantum mechanics". But when the physicists arrive at the five star hotel, the Iranian guest is nowhere to be found. In the absence of a new theory to be discussed, the physics community patiently turns to skiing. Johannes, however, remains at the hotel to work on his doctor’s thesis, but soon finds himself distracted, developing a special fascination with Karin, a young jazz pianist (Olivia Ross). Something about her seems strange, elusive. She seems to know things about him - things that he thought only he knew about. When one of the German physicists is found dead one morning, two inspectors arrive on the scene, investigating a homicide case. As increasingly bizarre cloud formations appear in the sky, the pianist disappears without a trace - and Johannes finds himself dragged into a sinister story of false memories, real nightmares, impossible love and a dark, roaring mystery hidden beneath the mountain.

Director's Statement

This film began - it has become a cliché to say - as a dream; a strange yet uncannily familiar mountainscape, a physicist's congress that, of course, never seems to take place, and a love story engulfed by an amorphous "conspiracy" that remains opaque to the end. This film is supposed to feel like a dream; one that is allowed to be as strange as it is entertaining, and which also repeatedly recurs to a cinema of yesteryear - or rather: to an amalgamated memory-image of cinema, sort of as if Hitchcock and Lynch (and countless others, known or forgotten) made love on the carpet of an old hotel lobby. This includes music, “utility music" like Herrmann's or Paul Misraki's, which can be pathetic and funny and naive, but also complex, fragile and unruly - the kind of music that, like the moving images it accompanied, sometimes seemed trapped in a strange kind of late-romantic arrested development, and yet was able to fill the same stretch of time with just as much dramatic irony as heartfelt, genuine emotion.

It’s exactly this simultaneity of contradictory attitudes and emotions that interests me most. When we follow Johannes in this film, are we watching the tragic (& perhaps overly familiar) story of an undiscovered genius, or are we observing the paranoid aberrations of an idiot chasing metaphysical shadows? This film invariably does both. Schrödinger's Cat is, so to speak, a genius and brain-dead at the same time. Just like the film, which is telling its mysterious love story in earnest, but does not fail to see the abyss (& pathetic potential for comedy) lurking beneath that which we call fate. The story seems deeply rooted in the 20th century, that long, weird century, which, despite all its real horrors and the discovery of chemical psychedelics, has still not managed to completely destroy the old idea of the individual genius guided by “fate”. The opposing idea, namely: that we inhabit an indifferent, chaotic universe, remains practically unbearable, until today - although the evidence sometimes seems overwhelming (personally, I find both options equally intriguing). But it all leaves us with an unanswered - and perhaps unanswerable - question: what, if anything, does it all mean?
The most productive thing resembling an answer, to me, can be found in the multiverse of cinema - and its ongoing ability to synthesise our collective dreams with the trappings of reality, to “shuffle the old cards in new ways”, as it were. Just like Johannes, we might not know who wrote the strange music coming down the hall, but we sure recognise the melody.

Cast & Crew

Directed by: Timm Kröger

Written by: Roderick Warich, Timm Kröger

Produced by: Heino Deckert, Viktoria Stolpe, Timm Kröger, Tina Börner, Lixi Frank, David Bohun, Sarah Born, Rajko Jazbec, Dario Schoch

Cinematography: Roland Stuprich

Editing: Jann Anderegg

Production Design: Cosima Vellenzer

Costume Design: Pola Kardum

Make-Up & Hair: Virginie Thomann, Kiky von Rebental

Original Score: Diego Ramos Rodríguez

Sound: Johannes Schmelzer-Ziringer, Dominik Leube

Visual Effects: Kariem Saleh, Adrian Meyer

Casting: Ulrike Müller

Cast: Jan Bülow (Johannes Leinert), Olivia Ross (Karin Hönig), Hanns Zischler (Dr. Julius Strahten), Gottfried Breitfuß (Prof. Henry Blumberg), David Bennent (Kommissar Arnold)

Nominations and Awards

  • Feature Film Selection 2023