The Relotius Affair: The New Bully Herbig ‘A Thousand Lines’ Movie Based on Big Cutlery

Bully Herbig’s new movie “A Thousand Lines” is based on big cutlery

With great effort, Michael Bully Herbig turns the scandal surrounding Spiegel author Claas Relotius into a lively and entertaining media comedy.


5 minutes

Lars Bogenius (Jonas Nay) wants to score points with his stories and sometimes he ignores or invents blocking facts.
© Warner Bros.

By Andreas Korner

Life in the cinema without charlatans, says modified wine, is possible, but it is useless. Truth scammers don’t always have to be invented for clever leaks, reality knows the names. They work without having completed any degree in medicine, write famous paintings and insane diaries, and fly around the world as pilots without getting caught. On the big screen, this usually fades quickly, becomes comical, if it turns out so well that it becomes satire and is often directed at those who let themselves be fooled.

Seismic measurements, if they are still receiving increasing interest, are likely to tell us about the gentle vibrations at the Hamburg headquarters of the news magazine Der Spiegel. They came from a volcanic eruption that caused the floors to vibrate violently in December 2018. At that time, Klas Relotius, a journalist who was working as a news reporter, was arrested in every sense of the word, who literally deceived the mirror above all, but Not only. There were other victims who read well, too.

Elias Mubarak as Romero and in a scene from the movie

Elias Mubarak as Romero and in a scene from the movie “A Thousand Lines”.
© Warner Bros.

Some of the essentials of his award-winning interviews and reporting from the epicenters of the world were untrue, bogus, or outright bogus. Ultimately 60 in number. Relotius had maneuvered himself to the height of his talent in terms of craftsmanship, and secured a permanent job at Spiegel, but had long since succumbed morally and ethically to ruin. Not only by chance, the young man was also a shining little nail in the rolling mill of a media company that desperately needed his next real shocker.

Today, nearly four years later, we’re sitting in the velvet movie booths and having a great time. Gone are even the bitterness that prevailed at that time among hard-working, unyielding fellows and immaculate principles, often at the mercy of the inevitably wretched streak of typesetting daily business.

Director Michael Polly Herbig (left) and the main cast at the movie premiere

Director Michael Polly Herbig (left) and the main cast at the Thousand Lines premiere.
© dpa

With Michael Bully Herbig, one of the few German directors has taken this material, who literally sighs after the film’s adaptation, and who thinks he’s capable of it. Because he is willing and able to get large cutlery out of the cupboard. Because he does not care about the poisonous farce drawn in foil, which opens the mask and just wants to raise the mirror to the mirror. Because he is a lustful athlete who just wants to deliver good comedy to his audience without urging them to start a research analysis tomorrow to understand, evaluate, judge and condemn the matter in detail. Others could have taken it differently, but they didn’t.

The basis for Hermann Florin’s screenplay was Juan Moreno’s “A Thousand Lines of Lies”, also the author of Spiegel and The Revealer of Relotius. But for his non-fiction book, he also had to take serious claims. What surprised Relotius himself most was the fact that Moreno made him an “artistic figure”. In an interview with the Swiss magazine Reportagen, published in July 2021 as an attempt to justify clarification, he spoke of “false claims of a writer who wants to give answers he does not have, and a feature film”. Moreno promoted the rights to this particular film while writing it.

However, since Michael Herbig has begun to allow this now-completed work to spin freely, imaginatively, and playfully around the topic of a relationship, the warm-up of non-fiction conflict is not very relevant and, above all, dispensable. Of course all names have been changed here, similarities are intended, and cliched words are welcome.

Juan Romero (Elias Mubarak) and photographer Milo (Michael Ostrovsky) love being in a world where there is no shortage of conflict. In the border region between Mexico and the United States, a second front opens for Romero, as “Chronik,” his Hamburg agent, wants Lars Pugenius (Jonas Nye) to finally lead an accurate title story. Puginius did what Romero and Milo failed to do: he met with illegal American border guards living radically on militant justice, and one of them was willing to talk. Romero was demoted to a supplier. This hurts and challenges him, especially when you open up to him some contradictions.

“Less than Ulrich Wickert, more Tarantino!”

In the house of “Chronik” one is above initial doubts about the typical author Bogenius. What is the name of the goal of the two leaders Rainer M. Habicht (Michael Martins) and Christian Eichner (Jörg Hartmann)? “Less than Ulrich Wickert, more Tarantino!” and: “We mold reality into our stories.” Both men, bargaining themselves for new jobs, suspect a feud between the alphabetical cocks Romero and Puginius. After all, there is a documentation department in the editorial office that knows how to distinguish between fake and real. But when smoked, it burns for a long time. The lights were lit.

Elias M’Barek is entirely at the heart of the story, which is quickly cut and provided with some really great visual ideas. He frustrates his image as a nimble, dynamic, slightly winning woman who handles things appropriately, speeding past Anne (Mary Burchard) and four young children like a man pushed into the arms of truth and nothing but the truth. Jonas Nye, on the other hand, turns Lars Pugenius into an outwardly impenetrable opponent and thus has little tangible motivation. This is suitable for this type of execution, because Michael Herbig always keeps his hands away from the overly complex anatomy of the character, which goes to the depths of psychoanalysis and clinical images. In terms of working mechanisms in the media, he does not show any great risk.

Arousal through exposure, should be sufficient. Perhaps ‘A Thousand Lines’ can still serve its purpose for those for whom laughter is not just laughing away.

The film is shown in Dresden (Programmkino Ost, Schauburg, UCI, Ufa, Rundkino, Cinemaxx) as well as in Bautzen, Döbeln, Görlitz, Hoyerswerda and Zittau.

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