A buttoned-down historian by trade, Undine (Paula Beer, Best Actress at this year’s Berlinale) can trace Berlin’s origins back to when it was a swamp teeming with creatures that either slithered or swam. However, the past that preoccupies her is a disintegrated romance with Johannes (Jacob Matschenz). As she’s slowly drawn to Christoph (Franz Rogowski), a diver culling treasure from a nondescript reservoir, Undine’s increasingly animalistic behaviour suggests that there’s something otherworldly lurking beneath her placid surface. We are all slaves to something and, in the case of Undine, it’s a matter of being bound by an ancient rite that compels her to punish Johannes’ transgression and take her place in the depths.

Coming courtesy of German master Christian Petzold (Transit), this alluring modern fairy tale coaxes viewers into a cinematic realm defined in equal measure by exquisite attention to detail and tantalizing mystery. Deeply romantic and visually ravishing, Undine mines magic from the mundane and reminds us why love is so often the stuff of lore.

"Petzold’s unsettling film is awash with wonderful ambiguities and strives to challenge both its audience and filmmaking conventions." - Jack King, The Playlist

Silver Bear (Best Actress), Berlin 20

North American premiere
Director Icon Director
Christian Petzold

Paula Beer, Franz Rogowski, Maryam Zaree, Jacob Matschenz
Executive Producer Anton Kaiser
Producer Florian Koerner von Gustorf, Michael Weber
Screenwriter Christian Petzold
Cinematographer Hans Fromm
Editor Bettina Böhler
Production Design Merlin Ortner
Production Company Schramm Film Koerner & Weber, Les Films du Losange
Source Films We Like
Germany/France 2020 90 min. German with English subtitles Review
Community Media Partners


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Petzold, Christian headshot


Born in Hilden, Germany in 1960, Christian Petzold has lived in Berlin since 1981. He studied German and drama at Freie Universität Berlin and then, from 1988 to 1994, film at the German Film and Television Academy Berlin (DFFB). The State I Am In (2000) won Gold at the German Film Awards; he was awarded the Silver Bear for Best Director for Barbara (2012). Undine marks his fifth film to be presented in the Berlinale Competition and, following Transit (2018) is his second collaboration with Paula Beer and Franz Rogowski.

Photo: ©Marco Krueger

Selected Filmography
The State I Am In (2000); Barbara (2012); Transit (2018)