The movie's plot is based on the true story of a group of young computer hackers from Hannover, Germany. In the late 1980s the orphaned Karl Koch invests his heritage in a flat and a home ... See full summary »
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The movie's plot is based on the true story of a group of young computer hackers from Hannover, Germany. In the late 1980s the orphaned Karl Koch invests his heritage in a flat and a home computer. At first he dials up to bulletin boards to discuss conspiracy theories inspired by his favorite novel, R.A. Wilson's "Illuminatus", but soon he and his friend David start breaking into government and military computers. Pepe, one of Karl's rather criminal acquaintances senses that there is money in computer cracking - he travels to east Berlin and tries to contact the KGB. Written by
Armin Ortmann <email@example.com>
Karl Koch collapses right after the Chernobyl accident (April 1986). On what seems to be the next morning in the movie, "Glücksrad" is on the TV in the hospital. The show started on German TV no sooner than 7 November 1988. See more »
23 is an admirable piece of work. The cast is good. So is the script. It basically tells the story of Western Germany in the 1980ies. The main character embodies the hysteria which was at that time rampant in the Federal Republic. It was fashionable to say "I'm afraid" (of nuclear warheads, of nuclear power, of the repeatedly predicted imminent ecological holocaust, of American president Ronald Reagan etc. etc.). An anti Western neurosis was widespread. All this (and the 80ies editions of German weekly Der Spiegel) come to mind while watching 23.
The main character, Karl Koch, is a high-strung, intelligent youth without a family (some sort of modern time "Young Werther") who is obsessed with personal computers and a weird science fiction story in which a world wide conspiracy of "Illuminates" is described. The figure 23 is the secret code of the conspirers. Together with a friend Karl Koch decides to somehow "counterbalance" the threat by using their computer skills to deliver information to the Eastern Bloc. (Apparently the story is based on true facts, the young man and his friend did enter computer systems of nuclear power stations, military installations etc. and they did deliver information to an intelligence agency in East Berlin). Their contact asks for more and more specified information and pays them in hard cash. The money is mainly used to finance their cocaine habit. So Karl Koch's life spirals downward, he is guilt ridden and ever more close to acute persecution mania. When the 80ies are over and the Iron Curtain is lifted, it is over with Karl Koch. He pays a heavy price for his obsessions.
Tragic as the overall story is, there are quite a few really funny scenes. A fine sense of humor prevails throughout the story. The two idealistic middle class youths gang up with two lowlifes, petty criminals who tell them they can establish contacts with the Eastern Bloc (which they actually do). The two unequal pairs truly are a motley crowd and there are gross misunderstandings as well as a true feeling of brotherhood during the cocaine parties. The most hilarious incident: Karl Koch and his friend have hardware problems. Their small "Atari" aggregate can't cope any more. So they go to a "garage sale" in a nuclear power station and buy a huge old computer. They have it delivered under a tarpaulin by a small truck to their elegant 19th century apartment house in fashionable downtown Frankfurt. Their lowlife friend, also a computer freak, joins them in the street in front of the apartment house. He looks at the truck and its cargo in gaping disbelief and quickly gets into a flying tantrum. You need heavy current for this! he cries out. Well, we'll get heavy current, then, says Karl Koch, slowly loosing his self assuredness. And you need a whole cooling unit if you don't want to fry it all, shrieks the lowlife. The next scene you see heavy rain coming down in the apartment houses backyard. The expensive piece of junk stands there like a ghost, in the mud.
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