FunAstrology"A Thousand Lines" by Michael Bully Herbig: In the...

"A Thousand Lines" by Michael Bully Herbig: In the Land of Lies

Created: 09/29/2022, 12:09 p.m

Elyas M’Barek als Juan Romero. Foto: Warner Bros.
Elias M’Barek as John Rosemary. Photo: Warner Bros. © Warner Bros.

Michael Bully Herbig tries his hand at the Relotius scandal – and does neither the seriousness nor the surreal joke justice.

Frankfurt am Main – Films about true media events have the advantage for critics that there is nothing to “spoiler” about them. So when the question arises at the end of what happened to the great forger-journalist, whose name is Lars Borgenius here, the film is just as smart as we are.

The disappearance of the former “Spiegel” reporter Claas Relotius from the public is only worth a small, playful scene in a psychological self-help group, according to Bully Herbig’s emphatically free adaptation of Juan Moreno’s non-fiction book “A Thousand Lines of Lies”. Even then he hasn’t quite gotten rid of his Pinocchio nose.

“A Thousand Lines”: The Enlightener is the hero of the story

The last words of the film belong to the hero in this story: Juan Moreno, the man who exposed him, is called here, less changed to an almost anagram, Juan Romero. Apparently, the proximity to the original was less of a concern – after all, royalties were paid. His conclusion sounds forgiving and leaves nothing to be desired about the profession because of a single black sheep: “It wasn’t journalism that lied, it was lied to. And only journalism can do something about that.” After all, a journalist clarified everything. Consequently, the Enlightener, played by Elyas M’Barek, one of the biggest stars of German cinema, is also the hero of the story. Bully Herbig resisted the temptation to empathize with the dazzling desires and misguided genius of a fraudster in the tradition of Helmut Dietl’s comedy forgers “Schtonk”. In return, this makes Bogenius, played quite believably by Jonas Nay, a very boring cinema villain.

The actual question of how one of the most renowned news magazines in the world could become a genuine lying press, at least for these around sixty texts, continues to dig deeper. Perhaps because the duo of department heads (Michael Maertens) and editor-in-chief (Jörg Hartmann), who make important editorial decisions about red wine or on the golf course, should correspond exactly to the prejudice of the typical AfD voter?

Michael Bully Herbig proved himself to be one of the most talented German mainstream directors in his first film comedies and in the technically excellent “Wickie”. But precisely this virtuoso playing with exaggeration, which enabled him to create a culinary form of irony, is hardly noticeable here. When Romero traces the last Borgenius lie, it leads him into Monument Valley landscapes that shod Manitou could only dream of. But there is no surreal surplus from this effort. On the contrary, Herbig, who recently warned of a “comedy police” in a television discussion in the course of the Winnetou debate, seems downright paralyzed here – as if he wanted to avoid at all costs being lumped together with the populist “lying press” callers will.

The film

thousand lines. D 2022. Directed by Michael “Bully” Herbig. 93 mins

“A thousand lines”: market wants “human”

In retrospect, he explained his “shoe of Manitu”, which is no longer feasible for him today, with “passion, joy of playing and the realization of dreams”. This material would also have given plenty of reason to do so, some of the Relotius inventions were crazy enough. But the limitation to the lonely heroic journey of his opponent was only enough for a tame family film – about the lovable father of four daughters, who (in a not quite comprehensible abridgement) even has to fight for the trust of his apparently loving wife.

Herbig would not be the first great comedian to lose his composure in the pursuit of more serious, seemingly more important subjects. The only regrettable thing is that at the same time he doesn’t capture the whole seriousness – namely the structural background of this media scandal. Why do editors even see a need for human-touch stories that are looking for protagonists in reality, like for a big movie? It is the alleged market value of the human being that is increasingly poisoning even the news formats of public television and with “Lovemobil” led to its own forgery scandal in the documentary film. Fictitious stories are something beautiful, Moreno finally sums up the knowledge gained, but they have nothing to do with journalism. That’s how it is, only the actual film would be found here. (Daniel Kothenschulte)

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