world on wire

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Original title world on wire
Country of production Federal Republic of Germany
original language German
Publishing year 1973
length 204 (99 + 105) minutes
Director Rainer Werner Fassbinder
script Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Fritz Müller-Scherz
production Peter Märthesheimer
Alexander Wesemann
music Gottfried Hüngsberg Theme
melody: "Albatross" by Fleetwood Mac
camera Michael Ballhaus
Ulrich Prinz
cut Ursula Elles
Marie Anne Gerhardt

Welt am Draht is a two-part television film by Rainer Werner Fassbinder from 1973. The model is based on the 1964 science fiction novel Simulacron-3 by Daniel F. Galouye .


Part 1

The action takes place in an alternative present from the 1970s. At the “Institute for Cybernetics and Future Research (IKZ)”, a supercomputer called Simulacron-1 was developed that is able to simulate a small town. This simulation runs around the clock and is populated by "identity units" that lead roughly the same life as normal people and have a consciousness . Except for a single “contact unit”, none of the simulated people knows that their world is a simulation or a simulacrum .

Fred Stiller is promoted to the institute's new director after his predecessor, Professor Henry Vollmer, died in unknown circumstances. Previously, he had indicated to his colleague Günther Lause that he had made an "enormous discovery". A few days later, at a party held by Stiller's superior Herbert Siskins, Lause disappears as if swallowed by the earth, just before he could inform Stiller of Vollmer's discovery. Stiller goes in search of Lause, but no one seems to have known the institute's former head of security at all. The name is also not recorded in the institute's personal databases - Lause never officially existed.

While Stiller does further research, strange things happen within the computer simulation: One of the identity units wanted to commit suicide and is then deleted from the simulation by Stiller's employee whaling. The contact unit named Einstein wants to leave the system and get into the real world. One day Einstein succeeds in slipping into the body of Stiller's colleague and friend, Fritz Walfang, when he locks into the simulation world using a “contact switch”. But the wrong identity is discovered. This ends the first part.

Part 2

Einstein is sent back to his simulated world at the beginning of the second part. While at the Institute intensify the political debates about the use of research results - Siskin the system wants industry provide - is Stiller slow the madness contrary. He feels that he too, like his predecessor Vollmer and his colleague Lause, should be eliminated. Accompanied by a tender affair with Eva Vollmer, the daughter of the former director, Stiller discovers that his own world is not the real world either, but also a more advanced simulation that was programmed from a higher level.

Because of his behavior, Stiller is declared crazy by his colleagues and is on leave. Later he is accused of two murders. He meets Eva again, who reveals to him that she is the projection of Eva from the real world and that he himself, as Fred Stiller, is a revenant of his creator, who has designed him in his own image. Stiller is shot dead by the police; However, Eva succeeds in exchanging his consciousness with that of the real Stiller, through which he appears in the real world.


The film was shot in 44 days between January 1973 and March 1973. The filming locations were Cologne, Munich, Paris and Versailles.

The novel Simulacron-3 was re-named The 13th Floor - Are you what you think? filmed.


Numerous critics have praised the film for its aesthetics and its play with reality. The special quality of the ensemble and the camera work were repeatedly emphasized.

“With its story, inspired by a 'Goldmann Weltraum Taschenbuch', Welt am Draht anticipates a discussion that will only be fully discussed later. Fassbinder asks about fundamental philosophical concepts of being , the perception of reality and video surveillance . He asks about the object status of monitored subjects and outlines the nightmare of falling victim to an illusion as an individual believing in his or her own existence (it is certainly no coincidence that the supercomputer in the film is called Simulakron ). Numerous current films take up this topic, from Cronenberg's eXistenZ to Matrix by the Wachowsky Brothers [ sic ! ] or Dark City by Alex Proyas . A look back at Fassbinder's work will certainly bring the viewer some new insights, because Fassbinder may be staging a little slower than his colleagues, but with a little more depth. "

- Benjamin Happel

“A fascinating mix of crime thriller , adventure film and vision of the future, which knows how to convey the complex narrative and reality levels with astonishing straightness. Fassbinder uses 'classic' genre motifs in order to reflect effectively on issues of corruption and manipulation , but also on possible forms of resistance . "

“It is a familiar and yet diabolically alienated world by Fassbinder, a world that takes the artificiality of the first Fassbinder films into a new dimension, which is both fascinating and repulsive ... world on the wire , that is cold blue light, aquarium atmosphere , sterile seventies chic, men in elegant jackets with bow ties, women with stoles and long gloves, with Isolde's love death on an endless loop in the background . A false life that may seem right to us in its lifeless stylization, in the unbelievable ease in playing with great emotions ... Klaus Löwitsch is a beautiful, cool noir hero , completely in the Bogart tradition , Mascha Rabben an irritating femme fatale . And the stars of German cinema of the fifties that Fassbinder brings together - Adrian Hoven, Ivan Desny, Rudolf Lenz - look in their statuesque aloofness like the players in computer games today. A world that calls for action - but it is denied it. "

- Fritz Göttler, Süddeutsche Zeitung

When he was awarded the Adolf Grimme Prize in 1974, Fassbinder received honorable recognition for directing.


  • There are already button phones in the film; the first device for the end user ( model FeTAp 751 ) did not come onto the German market until early 1977. Kurt Raab , who was involved, was responsible for the futuristic, but still believable, interior .
  • The car driven by Fred Stiller is a Corvette C3 with the (fictitious) registration number: FA-ST 277.
  • In the credits the last name of Adrian Hoven is listed as Hooven and Rainer Langhans as Langhanns .


The two-part series was broadcast on October 14, 1973 (part 1) and on October 16, 1973 (part 2) on television by ARD . It was seldom repeated and was not available on commercial media until the restoration.

As part of the Berlinale 2010 , a restored version had its world premiere in the Berlinale Special series on February 14, 2010. The artistic director of the restoration was Michael Ballhaus , cameraman of the original recordings on behalf of the Rainer Werner Fassbinder Foundation. The sponsors included a. the Federal Cultural Foundation and MoMA . On February 18, 2010, this version was released as a double DVD as part of the “Arthaus Premium” series by Kinowelt / Arthaus.

On October 6, 2010, the film was released for the first time on Blu-ray in France on the Carlotta Films label .

On June 8, 2012, it was broadcast on German television on Arte for the first time since 2002 . Both parts of the restored version are in native HD.


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. IMDb locations
  2. Benjamin Happel: Welt am Draht. Matrix for advanced users., archived from the original on January 26, 2011 ; Retrieved May 10, 2013 .
  3. World on the wire. In: Lexicon of International Films . Film service , accessed May 18, 2015 .Template: LdiF / Maintenance / Access used 
  4. A wrong life - Arte commemorates Rainer Werner Fassbinder, who died 30 years ago in an extensive series . Süddeutsche Zeitung of June 8, 2012, p. 15.
  5. ^ Christian Liemke: Rainer Werner Fassbinder's Welt am Draht in February 2010 on DVD., December 3, 2009, accessed May 10, 2013 .
  6. ^ Christian Liemke: Five new Blu-ray Discs from Carlotta Films by the end of 2010., July 8, 2010, accessed on May 10, 2013 .