I have seen some awfully good German films in the past few years and I will count “Undine” amongst one of them. It reminded me of “Shape of Water” due to the mysticism of both those films.
However there is some real lore in “Undine”. According to European mythology Undine is a water nymph who becomes human when she falls in love with a man but that man is doomed to die if he is unfaithful to her.
Set-in modern-day Berlin the film commences with Undine (Paula Beer) and her boyfriend Johannes breaking up at the behest of Johannes. Undine calmy states to Johannes if you break up with me you must die! A calm and cool Undine a psychopath? Something does not make sense unless of course you bring the mythical Undine into the picture.
Undine, an urban planner historian in Berlin, then meets commercial diver Christoph (Franz Rogowski) and it is love at first sight. They meet in a coffee shop in front of a huge aquarium with a toy commercial diver who says “Undine” then the tank buckles showering Undine and Christoph with water and glass.
Despite breaking up with his new flame Undine wants nothing to do with pleading Johannes begging her to re-establish the relationship. Eventually the myth comes to visit Johannes.
Christoph has a diving accident and is without oxygen for 12 minutes and is brain dead and on the myth visiting Johannes against all odds brain-dead Christoph wakes up in a start as Undine slides into the water at the site of Christoph’s recent accident.
Poor Christoph can’t find Undine as she has vanished. So he settles down with a new girlfriend and two years later he is diving at the site of his accident and a shiver down your spine moment occurs. Undine seems to be that mythical water nymph. Christoph replays the video of his dive and what he thought he saw and experienced was not seen on the replay. What can I say other than myth is sometimes stronger than “reality”?
You gotta love Big Gunther a massive catfish and wonder if he is part of the mythical underwater world! I have seen twice a mythically large sturgeon in Lake Champlain in Vermont so I know a bit about mythical fish!
The 2020 German film is directed by Christian Petzold and is in German with English subtitles.
It starts on June 4th at Digital Tiff Bell Lightbox in Toronto and at Cinema du Parc in Montreal and June 11th at Vancity in Vancouver.