The Movie's Theme
I keep going back and forth: Is it about revenge? Is it about reconciliation? The search for identity? These are all just catch phrases that don’t really say anything. That’s not the way I work. Revanche is a story – not theory enhanced by images. Maybe what my films are trying to do is to get to the bottom of life by focusing not on a social context but on existential questions. That’s my passion, what sparks my curiosity, impels me: tracking down the substance of life, its essence deep down inside. There is, behind all the conflicts and painful things I show in my films, a fundamental spark of optimism – the conviction that life isn’t a mistake, that it all somehow makes sense.
“Revanche” is an emotional piece, like all my movies. The characters are searching, are infused with subconscious feelings of love, grief, revenge, longing, loneliness, affection, and compassion. I like emotional movies, and I loathe kitsch and sentimentality. They are manipulation, escapism. Emotions are not the opposite of lucid thought and formal precision.
The red-light District, Prostitution
Behind the scenes in the red-light district everything is about making a profit, about making a little money here, a lot of money there, or maybe even about making really big money. Just about everything else takes a backseat. That’s the essence of our society, the society we have created and in which we live. And it’s also the basic problem. The red-light district is just a condensed version of our civilization. Prostitutes sell their bodies; many so-called successful people sell their consciences. They are respected figures in society, when in fact they are the bigger prostitutes because they act out of greed rather than need. Instead of abusing themselves, they abuse others, the environment, and the world.
Nature in Revanche
This is my first film in a long time where nature plays a key role. The woods, the trails, the secluded lake, but also the light, the weather – all these things are important elements in the film. “Revanche” starts out with momentum, with a strong plot, and gradually flows into a kind of silence: a powerful silence, I hope. In my mind, nature represents the silence behind the conflicts. Not as an idyllic refuge one can run to for relief, but as a force, an energy with its own almighty intelligence.
The Loneliness of the Characters
Loneliness is probably an inextricable part of our modern lives, and yet I consider it an illusion. We always think of ourselves as being separate from the world, and in this way we deceive ourselves. This separation is just an invention of our imagination, in many ways we are constantly and directly interwoven in a larger
whole. Loneliness is an attribute of our limited awareness, not of life itself. From the outside, the old man appears to be the loneliest character, but I think he is the least lonely of all. He has a clear identity, even if outwardly this makes his life difficult. It is an identity nevertheless. And he has his faith. And he isn’t afraid of
death. He may be alone, yes. But he isn’t lonely.
The Fateful Incident/Coincidence
I don’t believe in coincidences. Coincidence is just something our intellect can’t understand. We only see pieces of the whole, never the entire picture. That is the crucial challenge in narration: to take the “coincidence” that sets the story in motion and embed it in such a way, condense it in such a way that it emerges in a deeper context in the end. Ancient mythology is a great source to draw from.
The Movie's Form
Working with cinematographer Martin Gschlacht is very intuitive, very precise, without a lot of talk or discussion. Before getting started, we don’t really go into resolution, concrete scenes, technical stuff, etc.; instead we talk a lot about the story, its hidden meaning, about the formal basic conception of the film, about
rhythm, about style. We think these things out in detail before we start, then when we shoot, we can work intuitively and precisely. I want to make movies that don’t manipulate the viewer with effects. My style, the form of my films, which is something I am constantly working on, aims at simplicity and clarity. That may not
sound spectacular, but it is difficult to do and I think that ultimately it has the greatest power. I believe that the form of the film is where its individuality lies, and this individuality is where true beauty comes from. Not in the “moral” or the “criticism” or in vain demonstrations of “abilities.”
Working with the Actors
I believe that acting is best when it combines vitality with precision. I try to help actors with this, to guide them in that direction. All actors are different, each has his or her own approach. That’s why I don’t have any one method either, but various ones. It all depends.
Irina Potapenko spent a few nights “incognito” in a brothel, drank champagne with the customers, pole danced, familiarized herself with the job. Andreas Lust spent almost a week at the police station in Gföhl, did alcohol testing, received training at the shooting range, got to know the police officers and their lives. Johannes Krisch spent several nights driving around the city with a brothel driver. The actors incorporate this knowledge into the story, into their parts. The result is a different kind of self-assurance and naturalness in their acting: true-to-life, authentic.
The Movie's "Happy Ending"
My movie doesn’t have a happy ending. Why should it? That’s just kitsch, something that might make you feel giddy today, but tomorrow everything is back to normal again. Despite all the terrible things that happen in the world, despite all the problems and conflicts, I believe that life is right the way it is. That’s why I’m only interested in art that is life-affirming. This gives it force and urgency. And in this way it goes beyond mere reason.