Winter sleeper

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Original title Winter sleeper
Country of production Germany
original language German
Publishing year 1997
length 120 minutes
Age rating FSK 12
Director Tom Tykwer
script Tom Tykwer,
Anne-Françoise Pyszora
production Stefan Arndt
music Tom Tykwer,
Johnny Klimek ,
Reinhold Heil
camera Frank Griebe
cut Katja Dringenberg

Winter Sleeper is a German drama film directed by Tom Tykwer from 1997 .


A snow-covered winter holiday resort near Berchtesgaden in the mountains, shortly after Christmas: five people come back to the village after the Christmas holidays. The nurse Laura and the translator Rebecca live together in the house of Laura's great-aunt, which she inherited. The house is quite large and crammed with all kinds of furniture and lamps, it looks very cozy. Rene works as a projectionist and has short-term memory problems . Marco is Rebecca's boyfriend, he's a ski instructor and drives a fancy Alfa Romeo . Theo is a farmer and lives with his wife, daughter and two sons on a poor farm in the village.

When Marco comes back, he is greeted stormily by Rebecca and dragged into the house. He leaves his car open at the front door, the key is in the door. Much later, in the early morning, Rene comes by, he's drunk and takes photos of the car, finally he gets in and drives off. Theo gets up early to take the family's horse to the vet. His young daughter wants to come with him, but is not allowed to. The father does not notice that she is secretly hiding in the horse trailer . On a wintry country road, he gets on the wrong side of the road, almost collides with the oncoming Rene and throws his car on its side during the evasive maneuver. The Alfa Romeo lands in a snowdrift far from the road. Rene is unhurt, frees himself from the car and goes home in shock, still half seen by Theo. However, the transporter overturned during the evasive maneuver of the father, the girl and horse are seriously injured. The horse is shot by the distraught father at the scene of the accident, the child is taken to the local hospital.

There, Laura, as a nurse, experiences the suffering of the father, who becomes obsessed with finding the real cause of the accident in order to prove his innocence in the accident. Nobody believes that there was a second car because it has disappeared under a high snowdrift. The father only remembers a shape, a symbol on the back of the head of a man he saw leaving the scene of the accident. The young girl is operated on and from then on lies in a coma between life and death .

Rebecca is dissatisfied with her stormy relationship with Marco, he is a jealous egoist who is also not so strict about his loyalty. He reported his car to the police as stolen.

Laura and Rene get to know each other after a theater performance in which she is a part. He gives her free tickets to the cinema where he works. They fall in love with each other. That's why he takes photos of everything and everyone so that he can remember later. He sticks them in albums and gives them a date. He cannot assign some photos - he knows he must have seen what he photographed, but cannot remember when or where it was.

Theo and his wife have to give up the farm because of debts. Theo records the shape that he has seen, reproduces the drawing and hangs it up on site with the request that you let us know if the shape looks familiar. It's a big scar on the back of Rene's head. His wife tries to stop him because she thinks he just wants to run away from his own guilt for the accident.

After Marco moved into Rebecca and Laura's house, Rene found the Alfa Romeo theft report there. Together with the photos he took of the car that night, a sense of it begins to arise for him. Laura becomes pregnant from him.

One evening Marco invites Nina, one of his young students, to his boss's luxurious apartment for a chat, pretending to be his. He scalds himself on the coffee machine. When he is being treated by Laura in the hospital, Theo's daughter and his wife die there.

When Theo found the car in the snow a short time later, it ran into its owner Marco. He tries to find him at his place of work and follows his trail into the mountains, where he wanted to go skiing with the girl. The two have lost each other in the fog, Nina ends up injured with Theo's wife, who takes care of the girl. When Theo meets Marco in the mountains, Marco suspects it is the father of the girl he was with at his boss's house. He feels guilty and his father's dog attacks him. After he kills the dog with a stone in an emergency , he flees from its angry owner. Marco buckles on his skis and drives towards the slope, but misses a safe trail and drives over the edge of a mountain, he falls deep into the valley. Marco's fall seems to go on forever and ends not with an impact, but with a flight into a deep crevasse, back into the womb of the earth.

In an epilogue, Rebecca and the injured Nina leave town together on the train, but do not know each other. The film ends with Marco's death and the simultaneous birth of Rene and Laura's child.


Winter Sleeper is Tom Tykwer's second long feature film after Die tödliche Maria . The camera work by Frank Griebe , Tykwer's regular cameraman, is optically demanding, the editing by Katja Dringenberg works with many cross-fades and is relatively quick for this visually rather calm film. The choice of colors, also in the props of the film, is worked out and coordinated with the characters. The film contains two cinematic quotes. When Theo had an accident with the car, the end of Steven Spielberg's duel is quoted. Marco's fall into the depths commemorates the end of Stanley Kubrick's Dr. Strange, or how I learned to love the bomb . The fall is musically accompanied by Arvo Pärt's Cantus in Memoriam Benjamin Britten . Most of the film music, however, comes from the pen of Tom Tykwer, Reinhold Heil and Johnny Klimek, whose collaboration began with the production of this film and which they continue in Tykwer's subsequent films, such as Lola rennt or Das Parfum .

It was based on the novel Expense of Spirit by Anne-Françoise Pyszora . However, the original story takes place in the summer by the sea, and the character of Theo did not exist there. The central starting position with two couples who treat and communicate differently with each other, whose basis as a couple is different, comes from the book. Tykwer found it more appealing to let the story take place in the snow in winter, since there he was better able to realize his vision of the relationships between the characters and to himself.

The film refuses to accept simple good-bad assignments. The man who, from the farmer's point of view, is to blame for the accident knows nothing about his guilt and therefore cannot bear it. The person who dies tragically in the end may have been guilty, but not so serious that it has to claim his life. Basically, the framework of the accident and the relationship ballet of the four young characters are equally important. In screenings of the film, Tykwer found that different viewers had different approaches to the characters in the film, e. B. preferred the 'more communicative' couple to the other and did not understand that the 'more physical' couple was closer to others.


  • "A barbed melodrama: quiet, melancholy and extremely intensely told." (TV Today 22/1997)
  • "An irritatingly beautiful film about death and love: Tom Tykwer tells of five people in a snow-covered mountain hut whose lives he fatefully linked." (Cinema 11/1997)
  • "Tom Tykwer ('Die tödliche Maria') made a film about landscapes and emotions that plays with all genres: thriller, melodrama and romance." (Dirk Jasper FilmLexikon)


  • The film was awarded two German film prizes (camera and direction) and nominated for three more.
  • He was also nominated for the Locarno Golden Leopard .
  • He won six other film awards and was nominated for eight more.

Web links

Individual proof

  1. a b Tykwer on the making of the film