When we were Kings Documentary Review Questions

BERLINALE REVIEW: "Who we were" (Special)

Based on the book by Roger Willemsen, Marc Bauder delivers a startling picture of the state of the earth with his haunting documentary in the Berlinale Special - as an appeal to all of us.

"We had nothing to oppose our disappearance. We were the ones who knew but understood nothing," agrees Manfred Zapatka's sympathetic, calm narrative voice with Marc Bauder's inventory of the state of the world. It goes without saying that it is also a reckoning with us, who were "full to the brim with knowledge but did not understand anything," as the clever global citizen Roger Willemsen, whose voice is so sorely missed in these pandemic times, writes in the essays on which the film is based . The award-winning Bauder follows six personalities, scientists, philosophers and thinkers in different parts of the world, into space and the depths of the ocean. From these two extreme perspectives, from above and below, the global dialogue about our earth, the only one we have and whose atmosphere looks so thin and fragile from above, as if it could be blown away with a blower, says astronaut Alexander Barley. The entire history of mankind took place on this planet, which is so tiny in space, he argues. If we destroy it, this story will end.

The 85-year-old oceanologist Sylvia Earle asks why so far only three people have been on the ocean floor at a depth of 11 kilometers, why so little is being done to research the place where, as she says, "the heart of the earth beats". After all, the blue planet is so named because it consists of 97 percent water - a huge area with an alarming number of "dead zones". From above, the earth looks like an ocean, says Gerst too. And he reports what you see from space: The slash and burn on the Amazon, for example, which spread like cancerous ulcers, fires, wars, bomb explosions - all of this seems even more absurd from above without visible borders.

The economist Dennis Snower, long-time President of the Institute for the World Economy, seeks global solutions to social issues beyond traditional monetary systems. His African colleague Felwine Sarr shows the drastic consequences of development policy on his continent and invokes the need for the "Dignity of Knowledge". The Buddhist monk and molecular biologist Matthieu Ricard researches the positive effects of meditation on thinking, and the philosopher Janina Loh deals with robots and their feelings and plays out new answers to the question of how being human is defined.

Bauder's inspiring view of the world, already awarded as the best documentary film at the Hessian Film Prize, develops its own pull with the grandiose camera images from Börres Weiffenbach, material from space and the ocean and a catchy score , is a cinematic call to reflect on who we are, a call to think, to dialogue and to be with one another, and this focus on what really matters - protecting this planet - gives us courage and somehow hope.

Marga Boehle