The Seen and the Un-seen: Digital Life-time in Christian Petzold’s Etwas Besseres als den Tod (2011)

11 Dec 2017

With his contribution to the trilogy of films for television, Dreileben (2011), Christian Petzold, the leading exponent of the Berlin School of contemporary German filmmaking, produced his first digital work, breaking with his abiding attachment to analogue. This article is concerned with the bearing that this form has upon the ontological framework of the film in question: Etwas Besseres als den Tod. In a film that is concerned, as so much of Petzold’s work, with uncertain — often uncanny — boundaries between life and death, the article asks what kind of filmic life is achieved here. Its particular concern is with how the film inhabits the temporal dimension, and how it matches up to a model of what is called here filmic Eigenzeit, or proper time.