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(Leben der Philosophen, Das)

Scene from "Das Leben der Philosophen"

Production Report featured in
German Films Quarterly 01/2005

When Holger Haase, fresh out of the Ludwigsburg film school, got the call from Maran Film, he convinced them from the get-go that he was the right person to direct former dffb student Patrick Gurris’ script.

“His script was so crazy, so screwball,” says Haase, “it had everything from Bollywood to the Middle Ages! I just had to do it! It’s a comedy with drama, a drama with comedy. There were just so many possibilities. As soon as I’d read the first half I knew this was the one!”

Reduced to the max, Das Leben der Philosophen is the story of student Pablo who lacks the necessary drive. Instead, together with his buddies Scott and Amundsen, he writes a script for a crime film, the three of them dream of hitting the big time. If only there wasn’t all this complicated business with women. But crime writing has a positive effect on their lives after all…

“What attracted us,” says Maran Film’s André Zoch, “were the many fantasy elements. It’s not just a straightforward story. The script was very visual with a certain lightness.”

“There’s also a lot of good humor and it comes over well,” adds Sebastian Huenerfeld.

Among the maxims of the film business is that comedy is the hardest genre to make. Which is precisely why Haase opted to make one his debut film.

“It’s a challenge,” he says. “My last film school project was a tragicomedy and I wanted to go all the way.”

Citing British films such as Brassed Off and Billy Elliot, dogma, old Billy Wilder greats and contemporary German directors such as Leander Haussmann, Haase likes his comedy to be grounded in realistic characters, “otherwise they’re just idiots and proles,” he says.

He describes Das Leben der Philosophen as a “small bunch of flowers of absurd comedy mixed with the tragic love story of three students and the drama of their situation. The relationship founders and they’re affected - you have to show that. But in the script they’re writing, the comedy is exaggerated as a counterpoint and I take them and their problems seriously, otherwise you just have slapstick. The humor comes from the crazy way they try to solve their problems.”

Maran Films, Baden Wuerttemberg’s biggest production company, specializes in all genres from crime and comedy to event programming for TV and theatrical features. Of their working relationship, Haase has nothing but praise.

“They’re very relaxed, very constructive and experienced. We discuss and the best ideas win. I never dreamed my first feature could go like this. It was a great collaboration. And I have to thank Sabine Holtgreve at SWR. We always wanted to work together and now we are!”
Genre Comedy

Year of Production 2005
Director Holger Haase
Screenplay Patrick Gurris
Cinematography Chris Valentien
Dennis Eichstaedt
Stephanie Brenner
Cast Christian Naethe, Janet Heynert, Oliver Broecker, Alexandra Schalaudeck, Jasmin Schwiers, Vera Baranyai, Oona-Devi Liebich, Michael Kessler, Waldemar Kobus, Stephan Benson
Producers André Zoch, Martin Bach, Sebastian Huenerfeld
Production Company Maran Film/Baden-Baden, in co-production with SWR, ARTE
Format 16 mm, color
Shooting Dates Heidelberg, Mannheim, November-December 2004
Sound Technology Dolby Stereo

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