He is thought to be a non–conformist, photogenic, politically consistent and opera loving; always dressed in black with an inclination to dramatic self–aggrandizement and kitsch: Werner Schroeter is 58 years old; a theatre, film and opera director and conscious eccentric.

At the end of the 60's he already attracted attention with his experimental films; no compromise allowed, where the trivial was combined with the, very much, intellectual. His work reveals itself to a small public only. At this time Mr Schroeter moves in the same circles as Rainer Werner Faßbinder, Rosa von Praunheim and Ingrid Carven.

In his life as well as in his projects, death is a central issue: "near me people die like flies that must be because I seem to be exclusively surrounded by endangered people".

At the same time Mr Schroeter is a linguistically talented cosmopolitan, who feels more at home in Italy, France, Portugal and Mexico than in Germany. In Germany his productions are treated as an insider tip.

Claudia Schmid and Birgit Schulz's film approaches the rather unwieldy figure, investigates what makes Mr Schroeter tick and what is it that he believes he has to flee from. The film measures Mr Schroeter's abyss, is demonstrating his restlessness and helps to understand how he works. "To save human expression is as important as human life itself. Otherwise people go berserk."

The film is also introducing artists with whom Mr Schroeter is working together and those whose unconventional works he connects with his own ideas. In this way a kind of artistic conversation is created between Mr Schroeter; the camera woman Elfi Mikesch, his longstanding scène and costume designer Alberte Barsacq, his girl–friend Zazie de Paris, his dramaturg Monika Keppler and the actress he can work the most radically with: Isabelle Huppert.

A film by ARTE, 2003
70 min. documentary

Director: Claudia Schmid und Birgit Schulz
Photographer: Dieter Stürmer, Andreas Fiegel
Sound: Till Butenschön
Editor: Bettina Strunk
Commissioning Editor: Sabine Rollberg