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The Case of Wilhelm Reich

The Case of Wilhelm Reich

Österreich 2012 - with Klaus Maria Brandauer, Julia Jentsch, Kenny Doughty, Jeanette Hain, Jamie Sives, David Rasche ...

The Frankfurt-Tipp rating:

Movie info

Direction:Antonin Svoboda
Cinema release:05.09.2013
Production country:Österreich 2012
Running time:Approx. 110 min.
Rated:Age 12+
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After having to flee his old homeland from the Nazis in the 1930s, Austrian psychiatrist and frontier researcher Wilhelm Reich (Klaus Maria Brandauer) tries to continue his not uncontroversial research in the USA. But even here Reich soon faces hostility and persecution. At the latest, when he presents his theory of life energy, which he calls orgone, to the public and conducts experiments with the orgone accumulator he created, he is targeted by the government of communist hunter McCarthy and the FDA, the American health authority. But despite being subpoenaed several times and banned from working with the orgone accumulator, Reich is not so easily intimidated. With the help of his daughter Eva (Julia Jentsch) and his wife Ilse (Jeanette Hain), Reich wants to continue to put his ideas into practice and help his patients with his unconventional methods. But against the powerful system, which sees in him and his research a danger to society and American values, even the greatest idealism can do nothing.

With The Case of Wilhelm Reich, director Antonin Svoboda (Always Never by the Sea) dedicates himself for the second time after his 2009 documentary Who's Afraid of Wilhelm Reich to the controversial psychoanalyst and visionary, whose attitudes towards sexuality or holistic thinking have repeatedly met with resistance and rejection, not only from his colleagues. Reich was a very provocative, complex mind that can hardly be done justice to in a film that lasts barely two hours. That Svoboda nevertheless succeeds quite well is primarily due to the very good acting of Klaus Maria Brandauer, who here strongly withdraws his own personality and thus almost completely disappears into his role.

It is thanks to Brandauer that the film ultimately leaves quite a strong impression. For the direction itself, measured against its subject matter, is unfortunately a bit too well-behaved and ponderous to be able to captivate throughout the entire running time. The story Svoboda focuses on is interesting and offers plenty of discussion points worth thinking about and talking about in an animated manner after watching the film. But besides the strong performance of the main actor and the great pictures by cinematographer Martin Gschlacht, some aspects of the production seem relatively weak. Especially the enemy images are drawn in a rather clichéd way and seem as if they came out of a dusty film noir. When it comes to Reich's theses, the movie is very strong. But when it comes to his persecution and his private life, the story falls well short of its potential.

So the curve swings steadily back and forth between rousing and dull, between extremely strong and a little too pleasing. This doesn't make Der Fall Wilhelm Reich a bad film by any means. But in the end, the feeling remains that this controversial figure would have offered the potential for a more edgy, challenging film and that the director only succeeded in the beginning to really exploit this potential. Nevertheless, for lovers of engaging drama cinema and for those viewers interested in the person of Wilhelm Reich, the drama is still absolutely worth watching despite some obvious weaknesses!

An article by Frankfurt-Tipp


  • The Case of Wilhelm Reich
  • The Case of Wilhelm Reich
  • The Case of Wilhelm Reich
  • The Case of Wilhelm Reich
  • The Case of Wilhelm Reich
  • The Case of Wilhelm Reich
Cinema trailer for the movie "The Case of Wilhelm Reich (Österreich 2012)"
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