© Warner Bros. Pictures Germany

Die Vermessung der Welt (Measuring the World)
Germany 2012

Opening 25 Oct 2012

Directed by: Detlev Buck
Writing credits: Detlev Buck, Daniel Kehlmann
Principal actors: David Kross, Florian David Fitz, Karl Markovics, Vicky Krieps, Jérémy Kapone

Two brilliant 18th Century German scientists – each having measured the world in their own way – are the subjects of David Kehlmann’s bestseller The Measuring of the World that this film (by Detlev Buck) is based on. Fact and fiction are blended into a hilarious – if a little disrespectful – fictitious double-biography.

Mathematician Carl Friedrich Gauß (1777-1855), a child prodigy born into a poor family, conceived his major discoveries by the age of 17 – all without ever leaving his home state. Scientific explorer Alexander von Humboldt (1769 -1859), born into a wealthy family, was more of a late bloomer; but once he found his calling, set out to travel the world over to examine “everything that didn’t have legs nor fear to get away from him”. A story about measuring the world – with luscious sets (by Udo Kramer) and exotic locations – begs to be filmed in 3-D. Unfortunately this was unsatisfactorily left to Slawomir Idziak (camera): in some scenes the characters appear “Gulliver-esquely” tiny, in others angles and focus disappoint.

The well-chosen cast includes Florian David Fitz (Gauß), Albrecht Abraham Schuch (von Humboldt), Sunnyi Melles (Countess von Humboldt) and Vicky Krieps (Johanna). Michael Maertens was misdirected as an annoyingly buffoonish “Duke of Braunschweig”. The script (by Kehlmann, Buck and Daniel Nocke) concentrates on the chapters of the book that deal with science, and the film succeeds in making this subject exciting and entertaining. (Carola A)

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