Aus dem Nichts [Out of the Void] (2016)

Aus dem Nichts
Director: Angela Summereder
Writer: Angela Summereder
Seen on: 21.3.2016

Almost a hundred years ago Carl Schappeller was working on a theory: according to him there is a special kind of force everywhere and if we can only manage to tap into it, we will be able to create free energy: energy from nothing. His ideas gained a following for a while but were mostly discredited and nothing much of his work remains but the memories of a handful of elderly people who knew him or the family and a couple of scientists who have not yet given up on his work.

Summereders film is somewhere on the edge between fiction and documentary, a fitting format for a theory that is somewhere between fantasy and science (if we’re being very generous). As much as I liked that in theory, in practice the film just didn’t manage to convince me.


I usually don’t really read very much in advance about a film before I watch it and I try to avoid trailers from films I know I want to see anyway. Often the cast list or director is enough for me to give a movie a try. In this case I glanced at the film description, saw the words science fiction and that it was an Austrian film directed by a woman and that were three reasons for me to watch it. Had I looked a little more closely, I would have probably seen that the film wasn’t outright science fiction. In fact, I would very much contest that it contained any science at all.

I mean, yes, Summereder speaks with scientists who experiment with Schappeller’s ideas but so far they didn’t actually prove anything and they’re certainly relegated to the fringes of established science – especially since they go against one of the very basic tenets of physics: that you can’t create something from nothing. Giving them a platform like this documentary and not criticize them from a scientific standpoint is potentially dangerous. (Although I doubt that more than a few hundred people will ever see this film.)

ausdemnichts1But that part is only half or so of the film. The rest of the time is spent with Schappeller himself and that part I liked much better: we get re-enactments of how his life and research might have been and we get interviews with people who actually knew him or his family and a guy who found some of Schappeller’s documents in an attic. It all culminates into a procession to the house where Schappeller lived (I think) where the re-enactment and the interviewees start to overlap.

That part of the film was interesting especially because it didn’t try to give Schappeller’s ideas credit. Instead it became an examination of how our past is at the same time nothing more than a story that may or may not be “true”, but also so real and present it becomes almost tangible. That it is interesting by itself. No need to drag questionable science into it.

ausdemnichts2Summarizing: has its merits.


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