The Universal Theory 2023

Die Theorie von Allem

Directed by Timm Kröger Visions

Featuring numerous unexpected twists and plenty of Hitchcockian suspense, German director Timm Kröger’s heady sci-fi thriller takes us on a gripping cinematic voyage packed with astute film references and brain-melting metaphysics.

Aug 18

Hollywood Avondale

Germany In French and German with English subtitles
118 minutes B&W / DCP
NZ Classification TBC



Heino Deckert, Tina Börner, Viktoria Stolpe, Timm Kröger, Lixi Frank, David Bohun, Sarah Born, Rajko Jazbec, Dario Schoch


Roderick Warich, Timm Kröger


Roland Stuprich


Jann Anderegg

Production Designer

Cosima Vellenzer

Costume Designer

Pola Kardum


Diego Ramos Rodríguez


Jan Bülow, Olivia Ross, Hanns Zischler, Gottfried Breitfuss, David Bennent


Venice 2023


A pure cinephile delight presented in sumptuous black and white, Timm Kröger’s The Universal Theory is a superb take on multiverse storytelling. The film opens in colour in 1974 as a German TV host welcomes to his talk show guest, Johannes Leinert (a terrific Jan Bülow, in a career defining performance), the bestselling writer of cult book Die Theorie von Allem (the original German title of the film, translated as The Theory of Everything). The conversation leads to a disagreement on whether the book is sci-fi or reality and on the existence of parallel universes. As Johannes storms out of the studio, he addresses the camera to send out a message to a mysterious woman, Karin.  

Flashback to 1962: in the Swiss Alps, a boy and a girl play in the snow and accidentally uncover a dangerous secret. A younger Johannes, then a physics PhD candidate, travels to that same location with his advisor Dr Strathen to attend a congress where an Iranian scientist is set to share a “groundbreaking theory of quantum mechanics”. On the backdrop of the majestic mountainscape, Johannes meets a host of bizarre characters and gets entangled in a Cold War-era imbroglio, involving conspiracy, death and resurrecting doppelgängers. And he falls in love with Karin, a jazz pianist who knows way too much about his past (played by the seductively elusive Olivia Ross).  

Richly referencing classic cinema, from Hitchcock to Fassbinder, Welles to Lynch, film noir to German mountain films of the 1920s, French New Wave to Italian giallo, Timm Kröger creates a bewildering puzzle that is fully original, suspenseful and visually mesmerizing. But at the heart of what could have been a mere cinematic pastiche is a sublime poetic vision manifesting itself in what ultimately is a heart-wrenching love story. — Paolo Bertolin