The Institute for Cybernetics and Futurology’s most important project is Simulacron 1 – an electronic monster designed to put ordinary computer technology on an entirely new plane. Simulacron is able to make accurate predictions of social, economic and political events as if they were really happening in the present. This feature makes Simulacron of interest to two groups of people: those who are keen to improve living conditions in the future, and those who are hoping for information that will give them an advantage over their competitors. The research project’s initiator and director is Professor Vollmer who, however, dies suddenly, in mysterious circumstances. His death is quickly agreed to have been suicide – after all, shortly before his death he did show signs of a strange mental illness – and Siskins, the institute’s powerful head, appoints Dr Stiller as the scientist’s successor. However, Stiller’s colleagues soon begin to detect similarly bizarre symptoms in the new project director. Stiller attempts to forget his problems by throwing himself into his work on Simulacron. To him, Simulacron is not just a lifeless machine but a whole microcosm and, although he knows that the so-called ‘identity units’ are simply the result of electronic processes they sometimes look just like real people. Is Stiller schizophrenic? Many would seem to think so. But then, one day, during a routine transfer of his consciousness into the Simulacron’s chip, Stiller thinks he may have spotted an old acquaintance. – This Berlinale screening marks the theatrical premiere of the restored version of this film.
by Rainer Werner Fassbinder
with Klaus Löwitsch, Mascha Rabben, Adrian Hoven, Ivan Desny
Germany (Federal Republic from 1949) 1973