About the film
On its surface, Icons of Light (“Lichtgestalten”) the new film by Christian Moris Müller, is the story of a couple trying to find their place in the world. In many ways, Katharina and Steffen, the film’s two thirty-something main characters, are living the bourgeois bohemian dream. They have a spectacular apartment, a loving relationship, thriving creative careers. They are both happily plugged into the digital world, obsessively documenting and sharing their lives on social media and on video.
But deeper down, like many other people in their position, the two share a sense of unease about not only their relationship with technology but about the deeper meaning of their own success. So the two embark on an experiment: methodically destroying or giving away all of their belongings while filming the process. In doing so, they hope to spur the launch of a movement to reclaim the spontaneity and immediacy of a truly lived life.
As this project progresses, Icons of Light, which is made up of the couple’s own fictional recordings, picks apart not only the motivations of its protagonists, but some of the great anxieties of our contemporary times: about the role of money, the value of professional success, the ambiguous effects of technology on our daily lives and, above all, the importance of love. It does so with openness and ambiguity, and a sense of generosity towards its two flawed, complex protagonists.
The film takes place almost entirely within the confines of the couple’s impressive multi-story apartment. The film’s lyrical, entrancing images, captured by director of photography Mario Krause, conjure up spaces extending far beyond its apartment setting. Along with the score the ecstatic inner lives of the characters become visible. Icons of Light is anchored by the performances of Theresa Scholze and Max Riemelt, two of Germany’s finest actors. They craft a convincing, human portrait of a couple struggling to make sense of their own happiness and success – and trying to balance their personal attachments with their desire to break away from everything they know
Theresa Scholze has previously worked with Christian Moris Müller on his feature film, Four Windows (“Vier Fenster”), which premiered at the Berlin Film Festival in 2006. Her performance attracted accolades for its courage and authenticity. Since appearing in Müller’s film, Scholze has found fame among German audiences as the star the popular TV series Alisa – Follow Your Heart and as a nominee for a Grimme Prize, one of Germany’s top acting prizes.
Max Riemelt is one of Germany’s best-known young actors. He has appeared in, among other films, The Wave, We Are the Night and, most recently, the popular Free Fall as a police officer embarking on a gay love affair. He has also won the Grimme Prize for his role in In Face of the Crime the 10-part miniseries by acclaimed director Dominik Graf. Riemelt will also soon be appearing as one of the lead characters in the Wachowskis highly anticipated Netflix series, Sense 8.
For Müller, who was once nominated for the German Screenplay Prize, the central questions of the film are also deeply personal ones. He was motivated to write the screenplay by a desire to see if it was possible reinvent himself, to make a new start. He sees the rise of today’s technology – in-car GPS, Google algorithms and Amazon suggestions – as a security blanket that has inhibited “true experiences.” It has awakened in him a desire to get “lost.” This film is his attempt to do so – and to set off a revolution.