It’s a tricky business. When directors try to remake old classics, they have to be measured against that. It’s the same with the opening film of the Berlinale. With the 72nd edition, one of the biggest film festivals in the world kicked off on Thursday evening in Berlin.

To begin, “Peter von Kant”, the new film by French director François Ozon, will be screened. The Berlin Film Festival – they’re back despite the pandemic.

In the public, people now wear mouth and nose protection and corona tests are carried out in front of the cinema. In the morning, the hotel corridors are unusually empty, in the evening guests wave to the red carpet. Autograph hunters wear FFP2 masks. Whether it was a good idea was discussed for a long time – a film festival in the omicron wave. Claudia Roth, Minister of State for Culture, resolutely exclaims: “We will not let Corona bring us down.”

Opening film by François Ozon

The opening film takes you to an apartment in Cologne in the 1970s: director Peter (Denis Ménochet) treats his assistant Karl quite badly and falls in love with the young Amir. The film is based on a model by none other than Rainer Werner Fassbinder (1945-1982). “He was like a kind of big brother to me,” says Ozon (54, “Swimming Pool”). He has seen all of his films.

The film shows a lot of retro optics. Soft carpets, baroque images and people who smoke cocaine whose relationships end up getting worse. “I believe that human beings are made to need other human beings. But he didn’t learn to be together.” This passage from the original also appears in the new edition.

However, Ozon changes a crucial point: while “The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant” tells the story of a tyrannical fashion designer who falls in love with a female model, Ozon throws the story with men. But why in fact?

The change of perspective – from a lesbian story to a gay story – brings no narrative weight gain. Fassbinder’s emphasis on lesbian love also led to reflections on gender roles. Nothing like this can be found with ozone. The film remains too private for that.

Isabelle Adjani plays one of the main roles

Some scenes allow the interpretation that the film could be interpreted as a satire on the lie of human interaction in show business. However, if attempted, it is said too weakly and tearfully. Or does Ozon want to break with his great role model Fassbinder? Otherwise, why is he making a ridiculous figure of himself?

Isabelle Adjani, one of the great stars of French cinema, holds one of the main roles. But she did not come to Berlin. Actress Hanna Schygulla is also missing. She has already starred in Fassbinder’s film – 50 years later, we can now see her in a different role in the new edition.

The director of the festival assured him that everything would take place under the highest security measures. “But even if people have the triple vaccination, they can pass it on. It’s nothing for someone like me,” Schygulla told the Berliner Zeitung. According to the newspaper, the 78-year-old said in a phone call from Paris that she hadn’t been to Berlin since. so long because of Covid. “I’ve taken it very seriously now because I’ve lost a few friends and acquaintances to the disease.”

Schygulla said of the film Fassbinder: “I also didn’t identify with the role at the time. I said to Fassbinder: let me get out of these roles in the future. So he was so offended. I found the role horrible. Very flat as a character study. I didn’t like myself in the movie either. I didn’t like the whole movie.” But it was very successful. Of course, that gave her food for thought. She doesn’t like the ozone movie either. “But that’s good done.” (dpa)