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A film by Harald Bergmann

Actually I only wanted to go to Greece to talk about the Minoans and the curves and spirals. But then everything came differently. Does anyone still remember the incitement campaign against Greece in the European and German media? Does anyone still remember the year 2015, the Greek spring? Once again an entire people was declared to be guilty. Once again you were supposed to feel superior.

VORZEIT – In Praise of Greece
On Harald Bergmann's film
„VORZEIT - In Praise of Greece“

This movie was, is overdue! As a tribute to a country that seems to be mentioned only in connection with the word crisis. "VORZEIT – In Praise of Greece" is the title that filmmaker Harald Bergmann gives to the first part of his project about Greece, Crete and the much older Minoan culture. About a country between myth and myths: myth both in the sense of the ancient story the movie begins with the – the Zeus story – as well as in that other sense, which understands myth as distortion of the truth, deformation, lie – all the clichés, attributions, resentment and prejudices that some groups, communities and nations make about others, the natives about strangers, the Germans, the good Europeans about the indebted, insubordinate Greeks.

Nida Höhle

Accordingly, in 2015, the year of the great "crisis", no support  could be found for the project (only later could the film be realised thanks to a German BKM and Medienbord grant) and Harald Bergmann set off with nothing but a pocket camera (he went through four such cameras) to the origins of the Greek-Cretan myth in its dual meanings. As always with this director who defies all cinematic and commercial conformism, a highly impressive work was created, which presents these two aspects of the myth in an artistic web of pictures, voices, sounds, in breathtaking images that often literally vibrate from the camera hand: from the Idaean Zeus grotto, from the sea, the light, the city of Athens (including documentary fade-ins from Berlin), sometimes also in rapid flickering, which survives as a remembrance film in the memory.  And also in the voices of criticism, which condemn "cultural racism" and the defence mechanisms, which were frighteningly expressed not only in 2015 and not only here in Germany. But also and above all in the voices from the country itself, the true voices of people from different milieus, from the taxi driver to the intellectual to the always cheerful windbag with the nickname Pipinelli, who in the middle of the landscape enjoys the "luxury" of an outhouse with a fantastic sea view.  A shrewd master of life, a modern Diogenes, to whom sun, sea and his daily bowel movements are the great blessings of life.     
And not least in the voices of the women, the "Muses", two Greek and one German, the most haunting of which comes from the 80-year-old Greek Olga, who offers a manifesto of humanity in a simple, calm speech, as an expression of concrete, lived utopia. A unique document - and timely - in the face of the impending division of Europe.  And with them all the voices that trace the causes of envy, resentment, otherness, and try to fashion their counter-image, supplemented by the quiet statements of the director, who with his cautious questions loosens people's tongues, makes them tell stories, in Greek, English or German, and presents, as if in an interior monologue, the viewer with the question of whether the so-called crisis is not to be found with us rather than with the Greeks ... 
The memory that he contributes from his youth of a hike when an old, simple man on a plateau took him in and entertained him, is followed by a passage that is painful for German ears and is one of the almost silent highlights of the film, which penetrates deep into the ear and the heart.  And just as penetrating are the questions he raises through the references to the winter of starvation in 1941/42, when the National Socialists occupied the country and exploited it economically, literally bleeding it dry. There were over one hundred thousand dead, "smugglers, thieves, work-shy", as the Greeks were called at that time - like today.
    But this is not a thesis film. His method is to question, feel his way, full of respect and empathy for his counterpart and not least for the beauty of the country, its people, its music, its old myths, its light.  As someone who has become involved with the subject, he concludes with the thoughtful question, how "this way of thinking grew up in this light", a question which is also about the source of the strength of these ancient people with its ancient civilization, which shaped Western thinking like no other. The director will continue his pursuit in the next part of the project. An almost slapstick-like scene expresses this in a different way, when the windbag Pipinelli presents a pistol that bends in the shot at the other and is then directed against the shooter himself. A bitingly ironic commentary on the worldwide weapons mania and a cheerful, emphatic no to the omnipresent threat of suicide.
    Pathos, a quiet scepticism and at times flickering humour are the ingredients of this film – rhythmically and melodically framed, interspersed with the singing of Psarantonis, the famous Cretan lyre player who, sitting in the grandiose Cave of Zeus, praises music and nature as God, as the pulse of all life and existence. Get out of my sun! The legendary call - it is as if it also resounds with him. He who has ears, listen - and see this film.  

Marleen Stoessel

For many years, award winning German filmmaker Harald Bergmann was enchanted by the spirals and other patterns he pursued in Greece, both ancient and modern, so he decided to make a film about it. Speaking with people from all walks of life, travelling widely and observing closely the art and the landscape, he found plenty of material, enough for several films, but he also encountered a people stigmatized by the leaders of his own country, stigmatized in much the same way they had been during the German occupation in WWII. This troubled Bergmann and convinced him to explore what makes Greeks unique, what keeps them going during hardship, what keeps them from buckling under completely, losing their love of life and becoming wage slaves to the modern financial system.

“Vorzeit – In Praise of Greece” is Bergmann’s first of a series of films to explore what makes the Greeks who they are. But it’s not a documentary, in the usual sense. It is an audiovisual poem that takes the viewer on a sensuous journey into a land of stark contrasts. Subsequent films promise to take us deeper into the country’s history and prehistory to explore what scholars have called the “Greek miracle”, that unknown alchemy of land, light and sea that forged the seemingly immortal characters of those born into it. 
Alexander MacGillivray 


International interviewees
Peter Warren (archeologist, Bristol) 
Heinz Wismann (philosopher, Paris)
Franco Berardi (philosopher, writer, Bologna)
Harald Schumann (journalist, Berlin)
Sandy MacGillivray (archeologist, Athens)

Greek interviewees
Psarantonis, Olga, Pipinelli, Natasha, Giannis, John, Nontas, Judith, Nikos, Athanassis 

Ulrich Tukur

Director, camera, photos, montage, script, producer
Harald Bergmann

Assistant director, assistant editor, photos, sound
Ludivine van Gaver

Aerial photography
Manolis Kalabokis (Crete) 
Alexander Jaschik (Athens)

Camera greenscreen 
Ralph Netzer (Berlin)

Sound-design, mix, music recording
Matthias Lempert

Matthias Behrens
Domingo Stephan

Harald Bergmann

Veronika Stalz

Line producer
Frank Graf

Production manager
Ludivine van Gaver

Fixer Greece
Maria Powell

Angela Zerbe

Psarantonis, Psarogiorgis, Locatelli, Chopin, Scriabin

Harald Bergmann Filmproduktion


Supported by

Special thanks to
Wolf Niemeier, Sandy MacGillivray, Jürgen Link, Gesine Schwan, Margarita Tsomou, Enno Rudolph, Klara Lempert, Isabel Schosnig, Henning Vogt, Kirsten Niehuus, Fritz Blakolmer, Till Sahm, Klemens Golf, Lilly Grote, Ulrich Adomat, Marleen Stoessel, John Chambers, Sandra Ehlermann, Marian Tobsing, Juliana Schmidt, Lutz Lehmann, Nikolaus Esche, Karina Tews, Claus Löser, Martin Hagemann, Arne Birkenstock, Rodger Hodgson, Alexander Jaschik, Hanno Freimüller

Maria Krasiosakis, Maria Xanthopoulou, Christos Doumas, Manolis Hamaoui, Eva Lassithiotaki, Artemis Karnava, Giannis Papadatos, Nikos Fakaros, Musicaroi, Ursula Kastanias, Asteris Koutoulas, Ina Koutoulas, Diamanti Tsafantakis, Vasiliki Papadaki, Kostas Lampropoulos, Evanthia Protopsaltis, Giannis Papatzanis, Giagkos Hairetis, Giannis Angelakas, Giorgis Xylouris, Niki Xylouris, Vicky Michopoulou, Vangelio Andreadaki, Manolis Kraniotakis, Manolis Kalabokis, Jenny Cazelles, Maria Powell, Psarantonis

and to the people of Christos Raches und Langada

Produced with the support of
Gerd Kroske
Howard Harrington
Matthias Lempert
KAS Antikenverwaltung
Anke Bennholdt-Thomsen
Alfredo Guzzoni
Xylouris Familie

Director and Producer
Harald Bergmann


a Harald Bergmann film production


Harald Bergmann was born 1963 in Celle, North Germany. He studied Literature and Philosophy in Munich. He studied Film on the Academy of fine Arts in Hamburg and at the California Institute of Arts in Los Angeles in the Masters class of James Benning. He worked with the Frankfurter historical critical Edition of the writings of the poet Friedrich Hölderlin, which became the theme of one of his major works, the “Hölderlin Trilogy”- for which he received in 2007 the highly reputated “Hölderlin-Preis”. He received in 1994 the „Young Academy“ scholarship of the Akademie der Künste in Berlin. In 1996 he received the “Niedersächsischer Medienpreis”. For his cinema movie “Brinkmann’s Wrath” he received the “Innovation award of german film critics”, the “Preis der Autoren” of the Verlag der Autoren and the “Grimme-Preis”, the highest german TV award. Harald Bergmann was teaching as a professor at the Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg in Ludwigsburg, the "Hochschule für Gestaltung" in Karlsruhe, the University of Luzern, the “Hochschule für Film and Fernsehen” at Babelsberg and other insitutions.


The Butterfly Hunter - 37 Index Cards on Nabokov
Germany/Switzerland 2012, 135 min. HD/ 5.1

Hölderlin Edition
four Volume DVD and Book Edition about the Hölderlin Trilogy, Germany 2012, 660 min. film

HIN - Hölderlin's Archives
exhibition/ filminstallation with 11 projektions, Moritzburg, Art-museum of Saxony-Anhalt

Brinkmann's Wrath – Directors Cut
Germany 2007, 35mm/ Digibeta, 4 Part DVD Edition, 341 min.

Brinkmann’s Wrath
Germany 2006, 35mm, Dolby Digital, 105 min. with Eckhard Rhode,
Alexandra Finder, Martin Kurz

Passion Hölderlin
Germany 2003, Digibeta, 66 min. ARTE Theme-night about Hölderlin

Germany 2000, 35 mm, 112 min. with André Wilms, Walter Schmidinger
(3. part of the Hölderlin Trilogie)

9 Variations about the New Time
1998, Video essay 60 min.

1996, 80 min. Film + Live-Concert about Burroughs, Artaud, Rimbaud a.o.

1996, Short-film, 21 min.

Hölderlin Comics
Germany 1994, 90 min.
Walter Schmidinger, Udo Samel, Otto Sander
(2. part of the Hölderlin Trilogie)

Lyrische Suite
Germany 1992, 84 min.
Udo Samel, Jean Marie Straub, Otto Sander
(1. part of the Hölderlin Trilogie)

Schaut euch diesen Berg an, einstmals war er Feuer
Germany 1991, 60 min.
Doc-film about Cézanne and J.M Straub

Jo – the accident
1990, 1’Maz, ZDF - Kleines Fernsehspiel, 71 min.

Hölderlin, Homburg
1989, Short-film 16 mm, WDR


2008 Grimme-Preis für „Brinkmanns Zorn“ 
2008 Hölderlin-Preis der Universität und Stadt Tübingen für die Hölderlin-Tetralogie
2007 Preis der Autoren für „Brinkmanns Zorn“ 
2007 Innovationspreis der deutschen Filmkritik für „Brinkmanns Zorn“ 
2007 Publikumspreis Festival Frankfurt für „Brinkmanns Zorn“
1996 Medienpreis des Landes Niedersachsen für „Anrufbeantworterfilm“




Harald Bergmann Filmproduktion
Heilbronner Straße 25
D-10711 Berlin