A film by Ruth Beckermann
2016, 89 minutes
No. 075


The tormented romance between celebrated poets Paul Celan and Ingeborg Bachmann – a Holocaust survivor whose parents were killed in the concentration camps and a daughter of a Nazi party member – is the subject of this innovative documentary in which two actors read from their nearly two decades worth of correspondence.

The story begins in 1948 when Bachmann first meets Celan in post-war Vienna. She is 22 and he is 27. After a brief affair, they go their separate ways; Celan moves to Paris and marries a French aristocrat, Bachmann falls in love with a Swiss writer and takes up residence in Zurich and later Rome. But throughout their lives, they remain connected, composing more than 200 letters to each other over twenty years.

Celan commits suicide in Paris in 1971. Bachmann would die a few months later.

More than 60 years after Celan and Bachmann first met, two actors, Anja Plaschg and Laurence Rupp, meet in a recording studio and are asked to read their letters. Beckermann films them both in ‘character’ and out, and manages to capture a palpable on-screen chemistry that emerges from the historical letters making the words and times come magically to life.

In its fascinating exploration of this doomed romance, The Dreamed Ones reflects, much like the writer W.G. Sebald did in his books, on the lingering trauma of the Second World War.

Official Selection, Toronto Film Festival
Official Selection, Art of the Real, Film Society of Lincoln Center
Official Selection, Berlin Film Festival

"A work of profound beauty. One of the year’s dreamiest films is also one of the most elegantly and ingeniously realized films on longing." – Cinema Scope

"Mysterious and affecting… a meditation on the power of words and how history can touch our present in oblique and surprising ways." – Sight & Sound

"Beckermann weaves a fascinating tangle of ideas from a brilliantly simple premise." – Indiewire

"A bohemian rhapsody of doomed romance and post-war guilt." – Hollywood Reporter

"Four Stars. Beckermann’s playful approach is simple but strikingly effective." – The Guardian

“For those interested in post-World War II personal relationships and conflicts, and college classes in post-war Europe and human relations, this film will be an interesting addition and create valuable discussion topics. Recommended.”
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