Der große Verhau

The Big Mess
The parallels to the first Star Wars film that arrived a few years later are uncanny – and yet the two films could not be more different. As in George Lucas’s space saga, the opening crawl in Der große Verhau informs us that a galactic civil war is raging. While the evil empire reigns in Star Wars, here it is the Suez Canal Company. Resistance comes from the scavengers, smugglers and junk dealers, not unlike the rebels in Lucas’s film. However, Alexander Kluge counters the good vs. evil pathos with a tongue-in-cheek anti-capitalistic nonsense narrative, and Hollywood’s materiel battle with an abundance of creatively designed text panels and wonderful handmade animation techniques. The costumes seem to take more inspiration from the album cover for “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” than NASA. And krautrockers Amon Düül II provide a suitably contemporary soundtrack. Like every good science fiction film, Der große Verhau is first and foremost a story about the time of its creation.
by Alexander Kluge
with Vinzenz Sterr, Maria Sterr, Sigi Graue, Silvia Forsthofer, Frau Fürst, Herr Reents, Hajo von Zündt, Hark Bohm, Horst Sachtleben, Hannelore Hoger, Bernd Hoeltz
Federal Republic of Germany 1971 German 86’ Colour & Black/White


  • Vinzenz Sterr (Spaceman)
  • Maria Sterr (Spacewoman)
  • Sigi Graue (Clark Douglas, Space pilot)
  • Silvia Forsthofer (Ms. Silvie Szeliga, Douglas’ girlfriend)
  • Frau Fürst (Head of the company JGT)
  • Herr Reents (Company’s representative)
  • Hajo von Zündt (Head of the ground station of JGT)
  • Hark Bohm (Colonel von Schaacke)
  • Horst Sachtleben (Field officer of the space marines)
  • Hannelore Hoger (Police inspector)
  • Bernd Hoeltz (Prison officer)


Written and Directed by Alexander Kluge
Cinematography Thomas Mauch, Alfred Tichawsky
Editing Maximiliane Mainka, Beate Mainka-Jellinghaus
Sound Bernd Hoeltz

Produced by

Kairos Film

Alexander Kluge

Born in Halberstadt, Germany in 1932, he studied law, history and church music. He was one of the originators of the Oberhausen Manifesto in 1962. In 1966, he completed his first feature film, Abschied von gestern. His latest work, the collaborative film Happy Lamento, screened at the 2018 Venice Film Festival.

Filmography (selection)

1966 Abschied von Gestern 1967 Die Artisten in der Zirkuskuppel: ratlos 1970 Der große Verhau (The Big Mess) 1972 Willi Tobler und der Untergang der 6. Flotte 1973 Gelegenheitsarbeit einer Sklavin 1974 In Gefahr und größter Not bringt der Mittelweg den Tod (In Danger and Deep Distress, the Middle Way Spells Certain Death); co-directed by Edgar Reitz 1976 Der starke Ferdinand 1978 Deutschland im Herbst; Omnibus film, Director of several episodes 1979 Die Patriotin 1980 Der Kandidat (The Candidate); co-directed by Volker Schlöndorff, Stefan Aust and Alexander von Eschwege 1983 Krieg und Frieden (War and Peace); co-directed by Stefan Aust, Axel Engstfeld and Volker Schlöndorff · Die Macht der Gefühle 1985 Der Angriff der Gegenwart auf die übrige Zeit 1986 Vermischte Nachrichten (Odds and Ends); co-directed by Beate Mainka-Jellinghaus 1993 Veränderung ist das Salz des Vergnügens 2002 Der gefrorene Blitz 2012 Mensch 2.0 – Die Evolution in unserer Hand 2018 Happy Lamento 2020 Orphea

Bio- & filmography as of Berlinale 2020