7.7/10
5,199
40 user 96 critic

Never Look Away (2018)

Werk ohne Autor (original title)
Trailer
2:08 | Trailer

Watch Now

From $4.99 on Prime Video

German artist Kurt Barnert has escaped East Germany and now lives in West Germany, but is tormented by his childhood under the Nazis and the GDR-regime.
Reviews
Popularity
458 ( 22)
Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 4 wins & 11 nominations. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Learn more

More Like This 

Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

During the marijuana bonanza, a violent decade that saw the origins of drug trafficking in Colombia, Rapayet and his indigenous family get involved in a war to control the business that ends up destroying their lives and their culture.

Directors: Cristina Gallego, Ciro Guerra
Stars: Carmiña Martínez, José Acosta, Natalia Reyes
Balloon (2018)
Drama | History | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

Balloon is a German thriller that deals with the crossing of the inner German border of the families Strelzyk and Wetzel from the GDR to West Germany with a homemade hot-air balloon.

Director: Michael Herbig
Stars: Friedrich Mücke, Karoline Schuch, David Kross
Capernaum (2018)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  

While serving a five-year sentence for a violent crime, a 12-year-old boy sues his parents for neglect.

Director: Nadine Labaki
Stars: Zain Al Rafeea, Yordanos Shiferaw, Boluwatife Treasure Bankole
The Mustang (2019)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

The story of Roman Coleman, a violent convict, who is given the chance to participate in a rehabilitation therapy program involving the training of wild mustangs.

Director: Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre
Stars: Matthias Schoenaerts, Jason Mitchell, Bruce Dern
Hotel Mumbai (2018)
Drama | History | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

The true story of the Taj Hotel terrorist attack in Mumbai. Hotel staff risk their lives to keep everyone safe as people make unthinkable sacrifices to protect themselves and their families.

Director: Anthony Maras
Stars: Dev Patel, Armie Hammer, Nazanin Boniadi
Gloria Bell (2018)
Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

A free-spirited woman in her 50s seeks out love at L.A. dance clubs.

Director: Sebastián Lelio
Stars: Julianne Moore, John Turturro, Caren Pistorius
Cold War (2018)
Drama | History | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

In the 1950s, a music director falls in love with a singer and tries to persuade her to flee communist Poland for France.

Director: Pawel Pawlikowski
Stars: Joanna Kulig, Tomasz Kot, Borys Szyc
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

Two married couples adjust to the vast social and economic changes taking place in China from the 1980s to the present.

Director: Xiaoshuai Wang
Stars: Liya Ai, Jiang Du, Zhao-Yan Guo-Zhang
Greta (2018)
Drama | Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6/10 X  

A young woman befriends a lonely widow who's harboring a dark and deadly agenda toward her.

Director: Neil Jordan
Stars: Isabelle Huppert, Chloë Grace Moretz, Maika Monroe
Stockholm I (2018)
Biography | Comedy | Crime
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

Based on the absurd but true 1973 bank heist and hostage crisis in Stockholm that was documented in the New Yorker as the origins of the 'Stockholm Syndrome'.

Director: Robert Budreau
Stars: Ethan Hawke, Noomi Rapace, Mark Strong
Crime | Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

Laura, a Spanish woman living in Buenos Aires, returns to her hometown outside Madrid with her two children to attend her sister's wedding. However, the trip is upset by unexpected events that bring secrets into the open.

Director: Asghar Farhadi
Stars: Penélope Cruz, Javier Bardem, Ricardo Darín
Drama | Fantasy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

An unceasingly kind Italian peasant and his family are blatantly exploited by a tobacco baroness.

Director: Alice Rohrwacher
Stars: Adriano Tardiolo, Agnese Graziani, Alba Rohrwacher
Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Tom Schilling ... Kurt Barnert
Sebastian Koch ... Professor Carl Seeband
Paula Beer ... Ellie Seeband
Saskia Rosendahl ... Elisabeth May
Oliver Masucci ... Professor Antonius van Verten
Hanno Koffler ... Günther Preusser
Cai Cohrs Cai Cohrs ... Kurt Barnert 6 Jahre
Evgeniy Sidikhin ... NKWD Major Murawjow
Ulrike C. Tscharre ... Frau Hellthaler
Jörg Schüttauf Jörg Schüttauf ... Johann Barnert
Jeanette Hain ... Waltraut Barnert
Hans-Uwe Bauer Hans-Uwe Bauer ... Professor Horst Grimma
Ina Weisse Ina Weisse ... Martha Seeband
Lars Eidinger ... Ausstellungsführer Heiner Kerstens
Johanna Gastdorf ... Großmutter Malvine
Edit

Storyline

Young artist Kurt Barnert (Tom Schilling) has fled to West-Germany, but he continues to be tormented by the experiences he made in his childhood and youth in the Nazi years and during the GDR-regime. When he meets the student Ellie (Paula Beer), he is convinced that he has met the love of his life and begins to create paintings that mirror not only his own fate, but also the traumas of an entire generation. Written by Wiedemann & Berg Film

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for graphic nudity, sexuality and brief violent images | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
Edit

Details

Country:

Germany | Italy

Language:

German | Russian

Release Date:

3 October 2018 (Germany) See more »

Also Known As:

Work Without Author See more »

Filming Locations:

Berlin, Germany See more »

Edit

Box Office

Gross USA:

$1,304,042, 6 June 2019
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Dr. Seeband was honored at his hospital on December 11th. See more »

Goofs

The signage on the pillar on the left to the stair in the Düsseldorf women's hospital says "Chirugie" where it correctly should be "Chirurgie". See more »

Quotes

Kurt Barnert: It's far too easy to love you. You're so beautiful, it's almost unromantic.
[subtitled version]
See more »

Connections

Featured in 76th Golden Globe Awards (2019) See more »

Soundtracks

De torrente in via bibet [Dixit Dominus, HWV 232]
Composed by George Frideric Handel (as Händel)
Performed by Angela Kazimierczuk, Katherine Fuge, Monteverdi Choir, English Baroque Soloists, John Eliot Gardiner
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
Art as individual expression versus ideology
13 February 2019 | by Field78See all my reviews

Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck should be a satisfied man. He made a stunning debut in 2006 with The Lives of Others, which immediately earned him an Oscar. Then he fell victim to Hollywood, who offered him the chance to make a lavish star-studded spy thriller, but it ended up as The Tourist, a star vehicle that looked beautiful but showcased very little of his narrative brilliance (nor of Johnny Depp's talent). It took him eight years, but with Werk ohne Autor/Never Look Away, he is back at full strength. This is the movie that makes me hope that he has learned a valuable lesson, and make more of such signature personal films where he calls the shots instead of the stars or the big studio.

The original title, meaning "Work (of art) without author" is the overall theme of the film from the beginning, when the young protagonist Kurt and his subversive aunt learn how Nazi Germany regards art as nothing more than a vessel to propagate its ideology; individual touches or any implicit criticism are seen as mere egocentrism. Ironically enough, even the communist GDR regime that replaces the Nazis years later adheres to the same rigid dogma: art should serve the political cause and not the artist. Kurt feels extremely hampered by his inability to make the art that he wants, and even after a move to the free West, he finds that years of repression makes it difficult for him to find his own unique signature.

Parallel to Kurt's story, we follow Professor Seeband (the always reliable Sabastian Koch), a respected gynecologist who has sadly adopted the Nazi ideology of keeping bloodlines pure by removing the physically and mentally ill from society. This means ruthlessly sentencing people to forced sterilization and even death when it benefits humanity in his views. Despite having narrowly survived the war, he remains a staunch and unapologetic supporter of this conviction, even if he has to hide it. However, his sins will come back to haunt him, one way or another. As fate would have it, both Kurt and Seeband have more in common than they may ever realize, and even get to play major roles in each other's lives. The film is invisibly divided in alternating chapters where we follow these characters, sometimes separately, often at points where the course of their lives intersect.

It is nice to see how well director von Donnersmarck's script balances these two stories, and ties them together. He takes ample time to show how the these two men live with the burden of their past over thirty years in a divided Germany. Even though the intensity of the events vary, and with a running time of 188 minutes, the film doesn't bore a single minute. The WWII part is easily the most gripping and emotional sequence in the movie, where the director allows himself the grandest gestures to tell his story, which makes for some memorable scenes that are tough to watch. After Der Untergang (Downfall) and The Lives of Others, it again shows how German filmmakers do not shy back from showing the uglier parts of their history.

After the war sequences, the director moves our emotions in more subtle ways. Kurt's past memories have irrevocably shaped him, but none of them are slapped into our face. And despite Seeband's cruel disposition, there remains humanity in him. With beautiful cinematography by Passion of the Christ's Caleb Deschanel, Kurt's coming of age is shown with great humanism, drama, surprising humor, and a pivotal moment where his aunt introduces him to sexuality, and tells him to "never look away", which explains the also very apt English title. The nudity and sex are done with a playful approach and feel very natural to the story, reminding us of similar episodes in our own lives, and the times where mainstream cinema was much more comfortable with depiction of such scenes.

Apart from a character study and the subjective weight of our past, there is a fascinating central question of what produces authentic art. Is it by following established movements, or by finding one's own way and ignoring established tradition if necessary? And how do we depict 'truth'? The film gives no definitive answer to these universal questions, but Kurt's solution marks the point where both his story and Seeband's reach their emotional climax. Even here, von Donnersmarck could have easily gone big, but he shows restraint by not going for the most obvious or satisfying conclusion. Much is left to our own interpretation, like a true piece of art.

Like The Lives of Others, this film is another great example of the director's talent for tying together character and story arcs, while at the same tackling his nation's troubled past. But even as a picture book, the film works and never gets dull. The Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Movie is more than deserved, as is the Best Cinematography nod. Good luck there!


10 of 15 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 40 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Stream Action and Adventure Titles With Prime Video

Explore popular action and adventure titles available to stream with Prime Video.

Start your free trial



Recently Viewed