• Interviews

HFPA in Conversation: Christian Petzold – Seeking Innocence in a Love Story

German director and screenwriter Christian Petzold plays with themes of mythology, love, freedom, innocence, and physical appearance in his latest movie, Undine. The protagonist (Paula Beer) works as a historian, lecturing on Berlin’s urban development. But when the man she loves leaves her, the ancient myth catches up with her. Undine has to kill the one who betrays her and return to the water. Petzold tells HFPA journalist Barbara Gasser that he wrote the script in a hurry so that he could show it to Paula Beer and Frank Rogowski, who were working with him on the film Transit.  “It was also a good experience to write so fast. There was not such a big reflection, I had both of these actors in my head, in my mind, and I know how they can kiss and how they can walk and how they can touch each other.”

He explains that the story of Undine is very simple and complicated at the same moment. “Love is a contract, it costs you life, it costs you blood, it’s not a game, it’s not an app, it’s something which is going very deep. I love it because to see two people, both very innocent and clear and they don’t have, there was nothing between the lines. There are no lies, there are no narcissistic things, there’s no vanity, it’s just both of them and it’s fission, it’s body.”

Does Petzold believe that innocence and purity in love can exist? “I think it costs you a lot of work to reach innocence. It’s hard work to find some freedom, innocence, and physical appearance.”

Listen to the podcast and hear what kind of experiences he had in the Palić and Venice Film Festivals; how he felt when he met one of his favorite actors, Matt Dillon