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Infinity (2014) (The Kalmar Union)

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Unendlichkeit (Infinity)
Directed by Berthold Reiniger
Written by Berthold Reiniger / Rebecca Weisse
Starring Hannes Riemann

Solveig von Garnier

Udo Funck
Studio DFA (Dortmund Film AG)/Film Sorbia/Rhine-Animation AG
Release date(s) 6th June, 2014
Running time 383 mins
Country Imperial City of Dortmund/Sorbia/Palatinate
Language German intertitles

Unendlichkeit, Infinity, is a 2014 film made by Dortmund Film AG (DFA) studios in conjunction with Film Sorbia Studios and Rhine-Animation AG of Palatinate. It represents the culmination of several years of work by the boss of DFA, Berthold Reiniger, and has been described as his personal life's work.

Plot

In broad terms Infinity is the story of two young lovers the boy and the girl (Hannes Riemann and Solveig von Garnier) who find their path to happiness blocked. Eventually however they overcome their obstacles and reunite. This pattern repeats itself over four installments, and four time periods, themselves exploring themes of society, morality, religion and progress.

The four time periods are; a pre-Christianity phase moving from a hunter-gatherer tribe to a pseudo-Babylonian temple-city, a war-ravaged Germany during the Fifty Years War, a modern German city, and finally, in the film's most breath-taking scenes, a vision of Germany a hundred years in the future. Within each section, although the storylines are different, care has been taken to ensure various themes crop up repeatedly. For instance the Babylonian temple set and position of the characters within it is only slightly changed for the prince's court, the modern cathedral and future scientific exhibition, showing how little power and its abuses has changed over the centuries.

Between each section there is a short animated film by the pioneering Rhine-Animation AG studio. These feature no actors but are in fact multiple drawing which are filmed individually and appear to move once played back. They are meant to convey the ebb and flow of time between the periods. The musical score distributed with the film is more playful during these animated interludes in contrast with the often taut and bombastic score of the main films.

The production was extremely long and troubled. The original lead actress, Katja Hoffmann, was injured filming the escape from the temples and would be unable to rejoin the cast. This meant her role had to be recast and all close ups reshot. The original set burned down in January 2014 and Dortmund city council refused permission to rebuild it forcing Reiniger to find another location, eventually accepting help from Film Sorbia studio. The Sorbian army provides many of the extras in the battle scenes and the protest scenes near the end of the film. Reckoned to be the most expensive film ever made, by some margin, Infinity almost brought its studio and boss to bankruptcy.

Reception

Some unkinder critics have questioned whether the film's title is not in fact a allusion to its 'patience sapping' length and 'repetition of themes'. The public have avoided the full-length version too, with parlours showing a heavily cut version, or even the stand alone parts in a serial format. Both approaches leave out much of the animated sections however.

Despite its slightly indifferent reception it has found many admirers who have praised its vision. The futuristic section in which the unnamed city (though presumably it is Dortmund) is shown full to brim with skyscrapers joined with bridges and the sky full of airships and heavy-than-air aerodynes appears to have fired imaginations in such a way that few films have lately. The interior scenes, bristling with electricity (more animation from Rhine-Animation AG) and human-like automatons has left audiences all over Europe a-gape.

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