Welt am Draht

World on a Wire
The death of the director of the Institute for Cybernetics and Future Science (IKZ) triggers a host of questions for his successor Fred Stiller. Then the institute’s security advisor Günther Lause suddenly disappears after revealing he had something to tell Stiller. And why is Stiller the only one who remembers Lause? Is it all connected to the IKZ project “Simulacron 1”, which simulates human life via electronic circuits? And why does a street suddenly end in nothingness? Is it possible Stiller’s existence is only a simulation? … “I think, therefore I am” – 1973’s World on a Wire challenges that fundamental philosophical tenet in an even more unsettling manner than The Matrix later would. The film plausibly casts doubt on identity by transposing Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave” into a near future that is identifiable solely by push-button telephones, a videophone and a few futuristic light sculptures. Fassbinder’s brilliant two-part television film is marked by electronic sound effects and Michael Ballhaus’ camerawork – its dizzying dolly shots and generous use of reflection making orientation difficult. They make the threat emanating from the IBM mainframes intellectually and emotionally comprehensible even today.
by Rainer Werner Fassbinder
with Klaus Löwitsch, Barbara Valentin, Mascha Rabben, Karl Heinz Vosgerau, Wolfgang Schenck, Günter Lamprecht, Ulli Lommel, Adrian Hoven
Federal Republic of Germany 1973 German 212’ Colour Digitally restored version 2010 | DCP: Rainer Werner Fassbinder Foundation, Berlin


  • Klaus Löwitsch
  • Barbara Valentin
  • Mascha Rabben
  • Karl Heinz Vosgerau
  • Wolfgang Schenck
  • Günter Lamprecht
  • Ulli Lommel
  • Adrian Hoven


Director Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Screenplay Fritz Müller-Scherz, Rainer Werner Fassbinder adapted from the novel “Simulacron-3” (1964) by Daniel F. Galouye
Cinematography Michael Ballhaus
Editing Marie-Anne Gerhardt
Music Gottfried Hüngsberg
Sound Ernst Thomas
Set Construction Kurt Raab
Production Design Horst Giese, Walter Koch
Costumes Gabriele Pillon
Make-Up Rosemarie Schönartz, Norbert Gerwin

Produced by

Westdeutscher Rundfunk (WDR)

Additional information

DCP: Rainer Werner Fassbinder Foundation, Berlin

Rainer Werner Fassbinder

Born in Bad Wörishofen, Germany in 1945, he was the most famous and internationally acclaimed director of the New German Cinema. His feature film debut Love Is Colder Than Death screened in the 1969 Berlinale. He was also a film and theatre producer, a writer and an actor appearing in both his own works and those of other people. In 1978/79 he began a trilogy featuring women in the midst of everyday German life: The Marriage of Maria Braun, Lola and Veronika Voss. Fassbinder died in Munich in 1982 after having directed 44 films in just 14 years.

Filmography (selection as a director)

1966 This Night; short film · Der Stadtstreicher (The City Tramp); short film 1967 Das kleine Chaos (The Little Chaos); short film 1969 Liebe ist kälter als der Tod (Love Is Colder Than Death) · Katzelmacher · Götter der Pest (Gods of Plague) · Warum läuft Herr R. Amok? (Why Does Herr R. Run Amok?) 1970 Rio das Mortes · Das Kaffeehaus · Whity · Niklashauser Fahrt (The Niklashausen Journey) · Der amerikanische Soldat (The American Soldier) · Warnung vor einer heiligen Nutte (Beware of a Holy Whore) · Pioniere in Ingolstadt (Pioneers in Ingolstadt) 1971 Händler der vier Jahreszeiten (The Merchant of Four Seasons) 1972 Die bitteren Tränen der Petra von Kant (The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant) · Wildwechsel (Jail Bait) · Acht Stunden sind kein Tag (Eight Hours Don’t Make a Day) · Bremer Freiheit (Bremen Freedom) 1973 Welt am Draht (World on a Wire) · Nora Helmer · Martha · Angst essen Seele auf (Ali: Fear Eats the Soul) 1974 Fontane Effi Briest · Faustrecht der Freiheit (Fox and His Friends) · Wie ein Vogel auf dem Draht (Like a Bird on a Wire) 1975 Mutter Küsters’ Fahrt zum Himmel (Mother Küsters Goes to Heaven) · Angst vor der Angst (Fear of Fear) · Ich will doch nur, dass ihr mich liebt (I Only Want You to Love Me) 1976 Satansbraten (Satan’s Brew) · Chinesisches Roulette (Chinese Roulette) · Bolwieser 1977 Frauen in New York (Women in New York) · Despair – Eine Reise ins Licht (Despair) · Deutschland im Herbst (Germany in Autumn); episode film, director of one segment 1978 Die Ehe der Maria Braun (The Marriage of Maria Braun) · In einem Jahr mit 13 Monden (In a Year with 13 Moons) 1979 Die dritte Generation (The Third Generation) 1980 Berlin Alexanderplatz · Lili Marleen 1981 Lola · Theater in Trance (Theatre in Trance) · Die Sehnsucht der Veronika Voss (Veronika Voss) 1982 Querelle

Bio- & filmography as of Berlinale 2017