Berlinale: Programme

Film File

Berlinale Special

Es hätte schlimmer kommen können – Mario Adorf

It Could Have Been Worse – Mario Adorf

Herbert Schwering (Producer), Dominik Wessely (Director, Screenwriter), Mario Adorf (Protagonist)

Moderation: Jenni Zylka

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He almost failed the audition for drama school in Munich, but one teacher recognised his talent: ‘He possesses two things: strength and naivety. Let’s give it a try!’ And so began the career of Mario Adorf, born in 1930, who became one of the most popular actors of his generation. This film charts the important stages in his life: his childhood in the small town of Mayen in the Eifel mountains where he grew up with his single mother; his first theatre experiences in Munich; and his first successful film role, in Robert Siodmak’s Nachts, wenn der Teufel kam (The Devil Strikes At Night). The cities of Rome and Paris were constants in this European film star’s biography. He collaborated with Rainer Werner Fassbinder and Helmut Dietl, but kept his distance from both the international jet set and Munich’s glitterati. Adorf was often cast as the villain. At an advanced age in 2018, he played Karl Marx in the TV docudrama Der deutsche Prophet. He is currently preparing for a farewell tour entitled ‘Zugabe’ (‘Encore’) which will include songs and poems.
A film about a passionate man and actor who shares his view of the world, his profession, love and growing old in a congenial and self-ironic way.

Dominik Wessely

Germany 2019


Documentary form
98’ · Colour

World premiere


Mario Adorf
Senta Berger
Margarethe von Trotta
et al.


Written and directed by
Dominik Wessely
Director of Photography
Hajo Schomerus
Annette Muff
Maciej Sledziecki
Sound Design
Steffen Pfauth
Ralf Weber
Herbert Schwering, Christine Kiauk


Dominik Wessely

Born in Munich, Germany in 1966, he first studied modern history, history of art and philosophy in Munich and then documentary film directing at the Film Academy Baden-Württemberg. Since then he has written and directed documentaries, series and feature films. Between 2008 and 2013 he was professor of documentary film directing at the International Film School Cologne. His work first screened at the Berlinale in 2008 with Gegenschuss – Aufbruch der Filmemacher. His debut feature film Nellys Abenteuer (Nelly’s Adventure) screened at fifty festivals worldwide and won numerous awards.

Filmography (selection)

1998 Die Blume der Hausfrau 2001 Broadway Bruchsal – Schauspielerträume in der Provinz; TV series, co-director: Marcus Vetter 2004 Gottes Plan und Menschen Hand; TV film 2005 Windstärke 8 – Das Auswandererschiff 1855; TV series, co-directors: Arne Sinnwell, Gabriele Wengler 2006 Die Unzerbrechlichen 2008 Gegenschuss – Aufbruch der Filmemacher; co-director: Laurens Straub · Geheiligtes Gebein; TV film 2012 Georg Kreisler gibt es gar nicht; TV doc animation 2015 Lachen, um zu überleben: Ephraim Kishon; TV doc animation 2016 Nellys Abenteuer; children's film 2017 Charlotte Knobloch – Ein Leben in Deutschland; TV doc animation 2019 Es hätte schlimmer kommen können – Mario Adorf

Bio- & filmography as of Berlinale 2019

Produced by

World sales