Rainer Erler is Germany’s well-known film director of science thrillers like „Spare Parts“, „Plutonium“ or „The Blue Palace“. Plus, he is a writer and producer. Sven Kloepping asked him some questions about his movies, risks of science and „The Blue Palace“.
Sven Kloepping : Mr. Erler, many of your movies are legendary in Germany and Europe. Very soon in your life you have been interested in phenomenons and consequences of modern science. But instead of joining a protest movement you decided to face this matter in a creative way. Why ?
Rainer Erler : I am movie maker, writer-director, writer. This has some advantages! Just an example: „The Blue Palace“ has been broadcasted two times by ZDF (second German TV channel), as well as by 3Sat, ORF-Vienna, SRG-Zurich, RAI-Uno, TF3-France – plus „exports“ in many different countries. I have reached many million people with my ideas and did influence them as well. That’s not to compare with a small group of like-minded people.
Sven Kloepping : If you look back now, after more than 30 years of film making, have you done everything right or did you paint the future just a bit too black ?
Rainer Erler : I did what I could do – and now, I think, I have the right to be proud of it. I haven’t done everything what I wanted to. There still exist scripts and ideas and themes worthy to be presented to an audience of millions. But at some point there has to be made a cut.
(Sven Kloepping : We hope for all fans of Mr. Erler that the end of his work isn’t about to come too soon)
Sven Kloepping : What function has science today ?
Rainer Erler : To avoid misdevelopments – hereby I think especially of our climate, energy, ressources – and, naturally, to make possible a better life for the people in the Third World, with food, water, a good climate …
Sven Kloepping : Let’s talk about your movies. „The Delegation“ is about a visit of extraterrestians. What do you personally think about UFO sights ?
Rainer Erler : If there would ever be contacts to other, extraterrestian civilizations, then it would be surely only about information, as you can transmit it without appearing personally …
Sven Kloepping : „The Delegation“ seems to be like a documentary and thus earned attention of the audience, similar to Orson Welles‘ „War of the Worlds“. Are these similarities intented or not ?
Rainer Erler : I do films my own way and don’t follow certain models. I know Orson Welles‘ play just from rumours.
Sven Kloepping : „The Garbage Dump“ is about garbage. A lot of garbage. About garbage people, one could remark. The German magazine „Der Spiegel“ (The Mirror) wrote: „So much garbage is just worth to be watched.“ Is there any chance to escape from all the stuff we throw away? Are we slaves of our own rubbish? And – was Goethe right as he wrote: „… for all that comes to birth is fit for overthrow, as nothing worth“?
Rainer Erler : The garbage has to be seen allegorically. As well as the „we-don‘t-want-to-realize-the-apokalypse“ thing. The real rubbish stucks in the minds of all those „good guys“ full of hatred, envy, silliness and prejudices.
Sven Kloepping : „Operation Ganymede“ is about the return of a jupiter mission team discovering a deserted Earth. But instead of powerful monkeys (as in „Planet of the Apes“) there is really nothing at all – just destruction and desertion. The team gets divided step by step because of mistrust and delusion. What are the dangers of a manned mars mission? Do you think that the astronauts would be victims of halluzinations just as in the cult movie „Solaris“ of director Steven Soderbergh ?
Rainer Erler : Well, Earth hasn’t really changed. At the end of the movie, the exo-biologist steps into a well-functioning, overpopulated city. The presumed catastrophe (a destructed Earth) just has been in the minds of those astronauts who had lost contact to Earth. I think, team members of a man-machine-system usually are overtaxed by normal life in an extreme situation after landing.
Sven Kloepping : Your movie „Plutonium“ is about the misuse of radioactive material, set in a southamerican dictatorship. Wikipedia says: „It’s unbelievable why the German Manfred Hartung first talks German, later English.“ For sure you have an answer !
Rainer Erler : The English language inserts are answers to questions of an English speaking reporter team.
Sven Kloepping : „Spare Parts“ is for sure a reckoning and focusses on all those corrupted doctors and organ traders. Do you think that an extraterrestian species that is similar to us, but genetically degenerated, would use our bodies just as a spares store? How much humanity is still there in a surgery that’s controlled by a capitalistic system ?
Rainer Erler : Goods that are necessary to survive and that are very rare lead to criminalization. It’s all about money and survival. But „Spare Parts“ is also an alternative love story. I don’t believe in spare parts for extraterrestians. The terrestian market is corrupted enough, as we all know!
Sven Kloepping : Do we still need our organs when we all will transform into robots in future ?
Rainer Erler : We won’t transform. Man stays what he is.
Sven Kloepping : What is forbidden in our democratic system may be allowed elsewhere. „The Beautiful End of this World“ impressively describes that. Will there always be secret ways that enables industries to realize their perverted concepts in such „bad countries“ or will there be some day „democracy über alles“ ?
Rainer Erler : When it comes to maximum profits, ethic rules rapidly become pointless.
Sven Kloepping : Some of your films are about nuclear dangers. When the movies had been published that was a critical theme. Today we rethink – energy becomes „green“, politicians demand „renewable“ energy. Is this a consequence of the protest movements in the 60ies or would we have come to that insight by ourselves sooner or later ?
Rainer Erler : We will be confronted with „nuclear dangers“ still a while – alternative energy (i. e. solar power plants in the deserts) are very expensive and the development takes a while. Sadly but true: investors often just calculate with short term profits.
Sven Kloepping : Do you fear „dirty bombs“?
Rainer Erler : Yes. The corrupted souls of terrorists don’t seem to shrink from anything!
Sven Kloepping : What about fusion power? A solution or just delaying tactics?
Rainer Erler : I’m very interested in it – but I don’t see a solution in the near future. In all those years of expensive developments there has been no remarkable success.
Sven Kloepping : „You search god – but you won’t find him …!“
Sven Kloepping : „The Blue Palace“ is an impressive five-part science thriller that’s currently available digitally remastered as German DVD. Setting is the „Palace“ that’s inhabited by scientists from all over the world. Their research is top secret so that it consequently comes to very thrilling adventures. The very actions seem to be opera acts that tell us in a poetic and psychological brillant way the fates of humans and bring them into a philosophical context. What is science nowadays, facing multinational corporations whose leading heads are exchangable like light-bulbs ?
Rainer Erler : Scientific progress is team work, no question. But there are also „lonesome geniusses“ and small research institues, not just corporations.
Sven Kloepping : In your opinion, is intelligence something to be kept secret, because it could be dangerous for other humans? Does pure intelligence lead to delusion or death ?
Rainer Erler : Intelligence enables us to make life and humans on our planet better ones. It has been like that in the last four million years and it won’t change.
Sven Kloepping : „The Blue Palace“ reminds me at „The Physicists“ of Swiss writer Friedrich Dürrenmatt – scientists failing because of their own genius …
Rainer Erler : „The Physicists“ of Duerrenmatt has a real life context: the development of the Bomb. My scientists fail in a similar way, that’s true. The immortal flies fly away. The apokalypse is predetermined.
Sven Kloepping : In part 2 of „The Blue Palace“ a scientist wants more money. That’s usual in our modern world. But his research turns out to be a deadly threat. My question: Could the CERN in Genève become such a threat for humanity, creating a Black Hole that eats our planet ?
Rainer Erler : I’ve been in the CERN several times. For my novel „Firesigns“ that’s not been made into a film. I have friends in the CERN and had very interesting discussions with them, for example with professor Hora. I said to him: „You search god – but you won’t find him!“ And then, the Higgs boson is called „divine particle“. Curious. No, CERN, that’s basic research and a nuclear sized black hole is no threat at all.
Sven Kloepping : Immortality. A very old theme. My opinion: „You can’t prove eternity.“ Who could, in fact? And how do you know that you are immortal ?
Rainer Erler : My movies are more about prolonging of life and thus also about putting away the biochemical limitations. For example, when the cell structure doesn’t grow older because it is replaced by new cells again and again.
Sven Kloepping : Religion has a good excuse for the immortality problem: God is immortal and if we are good humans we too will be immortal. So: consensus makes eternal life possible. Isn’t that too easy? I mean, if you think about life, it gets more and more complicated. Don’t we need somebody solving all those problems than such a simplification ?
Rainer Erler : I don’t know. I’m atheist, you know. „Eternal Life“ was a smart marketing strategy of the christian myth (citing Paul: „Death is a consequence of sin!“). The success of the Christian religions was „resurrection“. Because „death is not the end, cannot be the end!“ (Luke).
Sven Kloepping : From this moment on our life takes place in the future !
Sven Kloepping: How many scientists did you have to interview before a film project could become reality ?
Rainer Erler : I’m autodidact – as director and as author. I don’t ask scientists for their opinion until the script with all scientific details isn’t completely written down. All those facts I have learned beforehand.
Sven Kloepping: Let’s finish the interview with some standard questions: Which are your favourite science fiction movies and books ?
Rainer Erler : In my youth I loved to read Hans Dominik, a German writer. For now I prefer Stanislaw Lem and Isaac Asimov.
Sven Kloepping: Why do you live in Australia ?
Rainer Erler : First of all there was this movie: „The Beautiful End of this World“. We produced movies in over thirty countries – let alone „The Blue Palace“ in thirteen countries. Then (second reason) there was our daughter Tatiana and her bad English (as she was 15). We sent her to a private school in Perth. After school she studied in Perth, met her later husband (Dwight Pedlow) and married. Now we are here – in the house next door lives her family with two children: Adrian (16) and Emily (13). In Australia we are only during the Bavarian winter. In summer we stay in Bairawies again (Bavaria, Germany).
Sven Kloepping: You have been nominated and winner of all the German science fiction awards. What do you wish for the German genre arts in future? Shouldn’t the big publishers show more guts and promote new talents?
Rainer Erler : From this moment on our life takes place in the future ! This should be enough reason to get involved into future and science fiction.
Sven Kloepping: Thanks for this interview !
Rainer Erler : It was a pleasure for me !
© Sven Kloepping
The english version interview made by Sven Kloepping with Rainer Erler was published with the permission of the author. We‘re thanking him !
The german version of the interview was published on deutsche-science-fiction.de and Andromeda Nachrichten (Magazine of the Science Fiction Club of Germany).
Rainer Erler (born in the final days of August 1933 in Munich ) learned the ropes in the motion picture studios of Munich, Berlin, Hamburg and Vienna, travelled through France, Spain, Morocco and West Africa, worked as assistant director to some of the most illustrious German directors of the time and studied film production with Eric Pommer, the legendary producer of Joseph von Sternberg’s ”THE BLUE ANGEL” and ”CALIGARI”, who had only recently returned to Europe from Hollywood.
Rainer Erler’s first full‑length feature, after a series of sardonic short subjects, the fantasy‑comedy ”TRANSMIGRATION OF A SOUL”, won the Ernst Lubitsch Prize, the Prix Italia and the Golden Nymph at the Monte Carlo Television Festival, and is still running in motion picture theatres all over Germany.
“MEDALS FOR THE BOYS”, a satire on the”Federal Medal of Merit” the highest order of the federal republic, was also awarded the Prix Italia and the Golden Nymph as well as the first prize at the Mifed in Milan.
His two films, ”SPECIAL FURLOUGH” (about a fatal incident at the Berlin Wall) and ”THE ASSASSIN” (about the attempt on Hitler’s life on November 9th, 1939) both received the Adolf Grimme Prize (awarded to a television play by the adult education colleges).
“THE DELEGATION”, a pseudo‑documentary about a television newscaster and the U.F.O. phenomenon, which Rainer Erler shot in Canada, the United States, Puerto Rico and Peru, received the Golden Camera film critics’ award.
His next work, a series of five full‑length films, entitled ”THE BLUE PALACE” was based on a report published by the Club of Rome in the early ‘70’s. The films take a critical look at what might happen if the revolutionary discoveries of modern science were to fall into the wrong hands. Rainer Erler coined the designation”Science Thriller” for this new genre of film. The five films were shot around the world: in Alaska, New York, New Mexico, in Hong Kong, Bangkok, Tokyo and Kyoto, in Scotland, Mexico, Venice and on the Belgian coast.
After more than a dozen years of activity as a screenwriter, producer and director, Rainer Erler severed his direct connection with BAVARIA FILMS in Munich in 1972 and established his own production company, ”pentagramma film productions”. The trade mark is a fivepointed star, a pentagram, the ancient celtic symbol for eternity, averting the threat of evil spirits.
This independent company has thus far produced 12 films, among them ”SEVEN DAYS”, a contribution to the discussion of modern theology (Adolf Grimme Prize), ”OPERATION GANYMEDE” (awarded the Golden Asteroid for the best science fiction film), the political thriller”PLUTONIUN” (Silver Asteroid for the best science fiction film made for television), and the thriller ”FLEISCH” (MEAT) (Golden Nymph, Monte Carlo), produced in the United States and currently running in motion picture theatres in more than 120 different countries.
“HERE COMES THE GURU” a satire on the promise of salvation proclaimed by quasi‑religious sects (subtitled: ”INDIA BRINGS OUT THE BEST IN YOUR NEUROSIS”) also served as a festival entry, as did his latest satire on the ad game: ”THE COMMERCIAL, or HALFWAY UP THE LADDER TO SUCCESS”.
In Australia, Rainer Erler produced a critical film about the threat of ecological disasters provoked by highly toxic”pesticides”: ”THE BEAUTIFUL END OF THIS WORLD” (Oscar d’Italia 1985/Telefilm of the Month).
In the USA, France, England, Singapore and Australia, in an international co‑production, Rainer Erler shot a timely thriller on the perils of atomic energy ”NEWS ‑ REPORT ON A JOURNEY TO A GLOWING FUTURE”. Following its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival, the film was launched in cinemas in 28 different countries. The ACCADEMIA ITALIA awarded the film the Premio d’ Italia 1986 – Targa d’Oro. It received the environmental award ”The Golden Flame” and the Curd Lasswitz Award in Germany. In addition, the film was nominated as the German entry in the Emmy competitions.
The satirical ”SUGAR ‑ THE SWEET DISASTER COMEDY” has to do with genetic engineering: newly constructed microorganisms spread like a plague, turning every scrap of paper into sugar. The film was made in Australia in an international co‑production.
In the two‑part feature ”THE KALTENBACH PAPERS”, produced by Berlin’s UFA and its partners in morocco and Portugal with an international cast, Rainer Erler describes the incredible adventure of two women”Sharon” (Part I) and”Eva” (Part II), who play a deadly game in an attempt to foil the criminal activities of a German arms exporter named Kaltenbach.
Apart from his films, Rainer Erler also published several novels and saw some of them climb to the best seller lists.
The first book, published in 1973, was ”THE DELEGATION” (since then in the catalogues of 4 different German publishers with editions also published in Finland, Sweden and Spain), after that the five volumes of ”THE BLUE PALACE” (1980), the psycho‑thriller ”FLEISCH” (‘MEAT’ 1981), ”THE LAST VACATION” (1982) and ”JOURNEY TO A GLOWING FUTURE”.
Rainer Erler’s Indian novel ”DELAY”, a life‑or‑death thriller about illegal arms exports will be filmed shortly under the title: ”MID‑LIFE BLUES”.
Following ”SUGAR”, the”report on a sweet catastrophe”, Edition Weitbrecht published the final work to date, ”THE KALTENBACH PAPERS”.
The novelization of the ”PLUTONIUM” screenplay was published by the Eichborn Verlag, ”SEVEN DAYS’ by ”Laetare” the screenplay of ”THE BEAUTIFUL END OF THIS WORLD” by ”Mirapuri”.
A collection of ”Thirteen Fantasy Love Stories”, which Rainer Erler ‑ unjustifiably ‑ calls”absolutely unfilmable” was published under the title ”ORCHIDS OF THE NIGHT” by the Gustav Lübbe Verlag. A second short story collection is currently in the works.
Because serious times call for a heavy supply of humorous entertainment, and to confront our amiable prudes with their lustful dreams, Rainer Erler wrote two plays: ”THE ORGY ‑ A HIGHLY MORAL COMEDY”, (about an encounter of the”sexth” kind ‑ thus far over three hundred sold out performances) and ”WIFE NUMBER TWO ‑ A HIGHLY IMMORAL COMEDY” (sage counsel for the rare occasions of marital infidelity).
Rainer Erler served as founding member on the board of the ”GERMAN FEDERAL ASSOCIATION OF TELEVISION AND MOTION PICTURE DIRECTORS” for many years, he is a deeply committed member of GREENPEACE and the AUSTRALIAN CONSERVATION FOUNDATION, the ”GERMAN ENERGY SOCIETY” and the ”SOLAR ENERGY SOCIETY”.
Rainer Erler is an honorary member of the ”ACCADEMIA ITALIA”, which displayed some of his experimental photography and poster designs in an annual exhibition and awarded him the ”STATUE OF VICTORY”. On recommendation of the academy’s president, Rainer Erler was made an honorary member of the”European Academy of the Arts” for his accomplishments in the”interpretation of the future”.
At its annual convention in 1984,”SEACON”, the”EUROPEAN SCIENCE FICTION SOCIETY” presented Rainer Erler with the”Best European SF‑Screenwriter” award.
For five years Rainer Erler taught dramaturgy, producing and directing at Munich’s FILM AND TELEVISION ACADEMY and was a member of the international jury at the OBERHAUSEN SHORT SUBJECT FESTIVAL and the MONTE CARLO TELEVISION FESTIVAL.
RAINER ERLER is married to the co‑producer of his films, RENATE ERLER, with whom he has co‑produced two children, Tatjana (married in Australia) and Tobias.
For the last fifteen years the Erlers are mainly living in Perth, Western Australia.
The most important films: “TRANSMIGRATION OF A SOUL”, “MEDALS FOR THE BOYS”, “FINAL CONFLICT”, “SPECIAL FURLOUCH”, “ALMOST A HERO”, “THE DELEGATION”, “THE BLUE PALACE” (5 x 90 min.), “THE GARBAGE DUMP”, “THE LAST VACATION”, “OPERATION GANYMEDE”, “PLUTONIUM”, “FLEISCH – MEAT” (“Spare Parts”), “THE SOURCE”, “HERE COMES THE GURU”, “THE COMMERCIAL ‑ OR HALFWAY UP THE LADDER OF SUCCESS”, “THE BEAUTIFUL END OF THIS WORLD”, “NEWS ‑REPORT ON A JOURNEY TO A GLOWING FUTURE” (“The Nuclear Conspiracy”), “SUGAR ‑ THE SWEET DISASTER COMEDY”, “THE KALTENBACH PAPERS” („A Fatal Assignment”- 2 x 95 min.)
Films by Rainer Erler have been presented as entries at following festivals: Moscow, Monte Carlo, Karlovy Vary, Berlin, Munich, Trieste, Cannes, Sitges/Barcelona, New York, Madrid, Rio de Janeiro, Genova, Verona, Milan, Freiburg, Vienna * Published Books: “THE DELEGATION” HC C. Bertelsmann/PB Fischer Orbit/1w11B Goldmann Verlag/PB Lübbe/PB Ullstein) “SEVEN DAYS” ‑ (REPORT OF A CRISIS) (Laetare Verlag) “THE BLUE PALACE”, five novels:”THE GENIUS”,”THE TRAITOR”,”THE NEDIUM”,”IMMORTALITY”,”THE GIANT” (all published by Goldmann Verlag, available as a collection from Bastei‑Lubbe and from Bertelsmann Buchclub and Readers Digest) „FLEISCH” (PB Goldmann, HC Langen‑Muller and PB Ullstein) “THE LAST VACATION” (PB Goldmann and Ullstein) “DELAY” (HC Goldmann original, PB Ullstein and in English translation by Pentagram Books) „PLUTONIUM” (Eichborn Magazine) “THE BEAUTIFUL END OF THIS WORLD” (PB Mirapuri Verlag) “JOURNEY TO A GLOWING FUTURE” (HC + PB Gustav Lübbe Verlag and Readers Digest) “ORCHID OF THE NIGHT” (“13 FANTASY LOVE STORIES”) ‑ (HC + PB Gustav Lübbe Verlag) “SUGAR ‑ THE SWEET DISASTER CONEDY” (HC Herbig) “THE KALTENBACH PAPERS” (HC Edition Weitbrecht) „SIGN OF FIRE” (HC Weitbrecht, HC Bertelsmann Buchclub, TB Goldmann).
Sven Kloepping is a German SF and poetry writer who translates his German SF stories for the English speaking readership by himself (and occassionally writes original English language poetry). He published his English language SF stories in several fiction magazines such as Fantastic Metropolis (“Up”), Internova, Planet Magazine. For Internova, he serves as co-editor. In Germany his fiction is published in anthologies (i. E. Passagen) and, by the major SF zines like Nova, c’t or phantastisch. In 2001, he has published a sci-fi short story collection named “MegaFusion” (setting is a city covering nearly the whole planet) which will be translated step by step. A second German story compilation came out in November 2010.
2nd winner of the Poetensitz Award (Heidelberg, 1999)
Winner of the Gerhard Beier Award (Frankfurt, 2001)
Nominated for the Kurd Laßwitz SF-Award (Germany, 2002, 2012)
„MegaFusion” (English) – SF stories (Amazon Kindle, 2012)
„MegaFusion” (German) – SF stories (G. Meyer Publishing, 2001)
„Menschgrenzen“ (German) – SF stories (p.machinery, 2010)
Several science-fiction stories and poetry in American fanzines and e-zines (such as Planet Magazine, Aphelion, Fantastic Metropolis) as well as in international magazines and e-zines (such as Internova, Futuro Europa or Lumi Virtuale). His works have been translated into English, Italian and Romanian so far. In Germany, Sven has published numerous sf and non-sf stories, articles and poetry in magazines and anthologies (e. g. Passagen, Federwelt, c’t, Nova, phantastisch! …). He also created an own sci-fi universe where many of his stories are set in (“MegaFusion”’).
Official homepage: http://www.svenkloepping.de
MegaFusion website: http://lyriko.vs120130.hl-users.com/SKloepping/MegaFusion/index.htm
Internova SF mag: http://www.nova-sf.de/internova
Nova SF magazine (German only): http://www.nova-sf.de
Kaskaden, the poetry magazine (German only): http://www.lyrikonline.eu
Deutsche Science Fiction (German only): http://www.deutsche-science-fiction.de