Sawed off by ZDF: Jan Bonny’s “We would be different people”


EThere is a scene in “Lord of the Rings” that is more frightening than all the Balrogs, Nazguls and Orcs that Peter Jackson runs around slaughtering people. The hobbit Bilbo Baggins stands there. He has grown old. Frodo goes on his trip to Mordor.

He gave him the sword. Frodo wears the ring of power, the treasure, on a chain around his neck. Bilbo can’t take his eyes off him. Wants to touch him again. But he cannot.

As his face explodes, greed grimaces. Takes only a second. Scares you in its truthfulness for years.

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In “We would be different people” there is such a scene. Jan Bonny made the film. The ZDF shows him in the summer holidays at the witching hour, which is a scandal, but more on that later.

Bonny does not play the sadest love story of the year disguised as a crime film in the Shire. But in the Rhineland. There are two men in the water of the stream. You are no longer young. Rupert, the driving instructor, and Chris, the retired policeman.

Apparently the calm itself: Rupert (Matthias Brandt) has just drowned one of his parents’ murderers


It is summer. The men wear boxer shorts. Chris can’t swim. It does not matter. He would not survive what Rupert did to him in broad daylight.

Rupert, the ungainly, inconspicuous, opaque, breaks out of the hatred that has built up in him for decades, the anger, the violence. His face explodes, becoming the mean face of revenge. You really would never have thought that Matthias Brandt could push his lower jaw so obnoxiously forward.

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Matthias Brandt in conversation

Rupert drowns Chris. Takes only seconds. Shocks you in truth for the rest of the TV year. Like the whole film.

But the truthfulness is actually reasonable for people, even for television viewers. Jan Bonny is a hunter of lost truth. Hardly any director, at least German, shows people that their brokenness, their despair, their running against inner prison walls, so naked, puts their essence on the skin as Jan Bonny.

Whoever gets involved, who hires him, knows what he is getting. Who, what he gets, because he doesn’t trust his audience except Inga Lindström and Harald Schmidt on the dream ship, has to put up with being called a coward.

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“About Barbarossaplatz”

The ARD had to put up with this for Bonnys – Cologne psychotherapy drama “About Barbarossaplatz”, which was actually intended as the start of a “Bloch” successor series. The ZDF has to put up with that now.

“We would be different people” – based on a story by Friedrich Ani, on a screenplay by Ani and Ina Jung – is nowhere near as radical as “Über Barbarossaplatz” or Bonny’s “Winter’s Tale” – the overwhelming right-wing terrorist cinema drama that – broadcast at prime time – whether its all-encompassing nudity and unsettling beauty might have triggered a mass extinction among the more aging clientele of the public service.

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“Police call” gleanings

You can see that it’s a Jan Bonny film, but you can hear it from the first second. The unadorned tone, the unfiltered images, the camera struggling like a figure for its inner balance, constantly looking over the shoulder of the supposedly inconspicuous people.

Nothing is beautiful there. Rupert circles a schoolchild with a schoolgirl (that it is a Citroën, the steering wheel of which is a fixed horn pot, may be a coincidence, but fits perfectly with Rupert, this poor guy who is circling a primal disaster). She says that she hates all of this. She also says that she wants to get out of here as quickly as possible. Away from the misery of this dying city.

Anja (Silke Bodenbender) is desperate.  Is her husband a killer?

At the center of fear: Silke Bodenbender as Anja Seidlein


Everyone on the Rhine is wondering why this Rupert came back a year ago. Not because they have read Thomas Wolfe’s “Look Home, Angel” and know that you cannot come back to your home. But because they read the newspapers. Back when they were full of reports on the family drama in the Seidleins’ house.

Two young police officers had stood in front of the door in the middle of the night. They didn’t really want that. Had an end of the day. Would rather eat kebab with fries. But should anyone look at the Seidleins. The matter escalated. A knife was in play.

In the end, Rupert’s parents and his best friend were dead in the dead living room. And the police told the traumatized surviving adolescent that it was self-defense.

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Home movie

Neo-Nazi “winter fairy tale”

Now they are back, the Seidleins, live in the death house. Whispering around them. Anja Seidlein says that he has completed his peace with the people.

What you don’t believe because you notice her alcohol consumption and the hysterical laugh that keeps breaking out of her like the gruffness of her supposedly chilled husband.

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They invite the perpetrators to the summer party. You are sociable. Alcohol flows, keeps everything together, keeps up appearances. If anyone were to search for footage for a cultural history of the horror of German club homes, he would find it in “We would be different people”.

The shit storm is huge

Bonny is once again driving the average German’s mental history to extremes. Maybe that’s why it is quite good that hardly anyone looks in the mirror that he is holding out to him. The shit storm is going to be huge again.

Bonny flashes back again and again, scenes from the original catastrophe fall into the life of Rupert Seidlein. You don’t notice the transitions, you see, but you immediately feel the hopelessness of Rupert’s strange self-chosen confrontation therapy.

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Perhaps they would have become other people, Rupert says to Anja, without the deed if they had actually ended up with her or “taken away” the perpetrators. He wants to have a life, they love without shadow. It will not work. It is to despair.

Jan Bonny loves these people. Can’t be overlooked. Don’t hide. A great film. Fallen under little ghosts.


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