The Princess and the Warrior

Shooting period July 1999 – October 1999
Locations Wuppertal, England
Production X Filme Creative Pool with WDR
Premiere Intl. Filmfestival Venice 2000
Cinematic Release 12 October 2000
Diastribution X Verleih AG
Intl. Distribution Studio Canal+
US Distribution Sony Classics


35 mm, cinemascope, colour, 129 min.


Official Competition Venice 2000
German Film Awards in Silver 2001 for best film
Jupiter („Cinema“-Leserpreis 2001 – best leading actress Franka Potente)
Gilde-Film Prize 2001 in Gold

Film Essay
by Peter Cowie.

“’Tis all a chequer-board of nights and days Where Destiny with Men for pieces plays.”
Edward Fitzgerald (1809-1883), “The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyám”

Just as Bergman’s Cries and Whispers stemmed from the vision of four women in white, whispering in a large red room, so Tykwer’s The Princess and the Warrior originated in the image of a woman lying somewhere in blackness. Conceived and written before Run Lola Run had opened in Germany, this may in fact be his greatest work to date. As the title implies, The Princess and the Warrior has the texture of a fairy tale, with Franka Potente as Sissi, a Cinderella in search of her Prince – none other than Bodo (Benno Fürmann), the man who has saved her life after a traffic accident.

Tykwer is drawn to characters who live on the margins of society. Both Sissi and Bodo struggle beneath the weight of emotional baggage. She has grown up in a psychiatric clinic as the daughter of a nurse and an inmate. He has witnessed his wife being killed in an explosion and fire at a gas station. The film charts their relationship from its bizarre beginnings as he inserts a straw in her windpipe while she lies beneath the truck, to their enforced flight after a bank robbery that goes awry and results in the death of Bodo’s brother, Walter. Like Lola and Manni, and like Philippa and Filippo in Heaven, they nestle together in a bubble of intimacy and illusion. Destiny unites them and Tykwer paints the pair with such remarkably sympathetic brush-strokes that we hold our breath as they ignore the cops and leap into a void hand in hand, like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, or Thelma and Louise. In fact, it’s only a few storeys down, into a murky lake at the psychiatric clinic, but in one of the movie’s most lyrical images, they swim upward through the effervescent water to salvation. Purged at last of the complexes that have maimed their lives thus far, Sissi and Bodo find their way to “the end of the world” – a remote, gracious house perched on the French coast and owned by an old friend of Sissi’s. Society and its laws slip out of focus, and the lovers are free to conclude their fairy-tale, just as the young fugitives will ascend to “heaven” in Tykwer’s next film.

As Run Lola Run demonstrated, Tykwer knows how to carve time into significant, often wafer-thin slices. Paying tribute to the opening of Kieslowski’s Red, the prologue follows the hectic progress of a letter written and posted in France, before it reaches the austere building in Wuppertal where Sissi lives and works. The action accelerates into pixilation at certain junctures, a technique that Tykwer also uses to good effect in his short film, True. At other points, time almost congeals, as when the couple jump off the roof of the clinic and seem to hover in space. Tykwer introduces subjective moments with an audacity that’s become his trademark. Whether it’s the jealous patient, Steini, imagining his beloved Sissi’s mother in her bath, or Bodo meeting his “other self” at the gas station, these scenes add richness of psychological detail to the fabric of the movie.

Tykwer also has a gift for shaping characters out of the least promising material. For Sissi, he writes dialogue that manages to combine both her childlike innocence and her inner strength and persistence. She speaks slowly, as though trapped underwater. She is understanding, forgiving even, when attacked by the inmates of the clinic where she works. Tender, vulnerable, Sissi nonetheless exerts an hypnotic power over people who stand in the way of her search for Bodo, her saviour. Her goodness is expressed in almost subliminal ways. For example, when she thrusts the blind, helpless Otto out of the path of the truck just before it smashes into her.

For Bodo, Tykwer creates lines and situations that are one moment violent and aggressive, the next ominous and dreamlike. Benno Fürmann plays him with a latent, unnerving energy. Haunted by nightmares about his past, he lives in a kind of spiritual penumbra, controlled in an everyday sense by his calculating brother but somehow awaiting the release that Sissi can afford him. Only in the next to last shot of the film can he permit himself a shy, chaste smile, and lay a hand of friendship on Sissi’s knee.

Tykwer pursues in this film a state of purity, a purity of expression that finds its most marvellous quintessence in a scene in the clinic, as Bodo and Sissi sit in an empty, padded room and talk to each other, and Bodo at last confesses the tragedy of his wife’s death. The camera glides around them in a 360º circle, so that their conversation, punctuated by moments of silence, acquires the intimacy of a dream. Sissi and Bodo seem to be floating out of time, an effect reinforced towards the end of the film, as the “space cam” hovers above the couple as they arrive in France and then soars away with Olympian detachment. Wenders achieved this effect in Wings of Desire, but Tykwer’s is a warmer, more tender vision.

Close-ups, as always in Tykwer, reveal so much more than they do in the average movie. The way he and Frank Griebe shoot their close-ups takes full advantage of the ‘scope format. The human head becomes a mysterious landscape – eyes quivering, veering away in fear or modesty; hair, carefully delineated as in an Old Master painting; a cheek flushed, the receptive whorl of an ear. Little by little, such shots open up the characters to us. The enigmatic mood of the film is discreetly emphasised by the score, much of it composed by Tykwer and his colleagues Reinhold Heil and Johnny Klimek, as well as the mystical piano music by the Estonian Urmas Sisask which accompanies the robbery sequence.

If one scene epitomises the uncanny sensitivity of The Princess and the Warrior, it’s the anguished moment when Sissi is being rushed down a hospital corridor and Bodo, unable to keep pace, must let go her hand. The feeling of deprivation, as Bodo’s figure is almost sucked back down the corridor into infinity, could not be more palpable. And so this instant of loss serves as the spark that drives Sissi’s quest throughout the film.

The Princess and the Warrior marks a huge progression in the career of Tom Tykwer, a work that justifies his status as a true auteur.


Bodo is standing at the railings on a motorway bridge, his arms are outstretched as if he were about to fly. At the closed psychiatric institution Birkenhof, Sissi receives a letter, which she studies with careful concentration, but doesn't open. The very first scenes leave viewers with the sense that these two people have secrets, and that the film will only reveal them gradually. There is no fast route into them, and instead, viewers are immediately bewitched. And as the scenes of their everyday lives follow one another, the threads of their fate are woven together into the very net in which they will become ensnarled.

Bodo (Benno Fürmann) is in his late twenties. He's come out of the army and is looking for a job. He starts working as a pallbearer, but when the tears begin streaming down his face at the sight of the coffin of an old woman he never knew, he gives up. He goes to the isolated little wooden house on the outskirts of Wuppertal, which he shares with his older brother Walter (Joachim Król). His brother assures him that it's not the end of the world, and anyway he has a plan: With Benno's help, he wants to rob the bank where he works as a security guard.

Simone, better known as Sissi (Franka Potente) is in her mid-twenties and works as a nurse in the Birkenhof closed psychiatric unit. It quickly becomes obvious that she is an object of attraction for many of the male patients, especially the blind man, Otto (Melchior Beslon) to whom she shows ice cubes and teaches about goose bumps, and Jörg Steinkohl, Steini (Lars Rudolph) for short, who calls her "my girl", and has a habit of asking her to 'satisfy' him in the evenings.

Bodo and Sissi move through their individual orbits like two stars. Two stars which have to collide with each another in order to be catapulted onto a new, and possibly mutual path.

Bodo runs through the streets of Wuppertal, trying to shake off two employees of a petrol station from which he has stolen some food. In his attempt to escape them, he jumps onto a tanker truck, the driver of which angrily tries to get rid of him. At the same time, Sissi is walking through the streets of Wuppertal with Otto on her way to collect the contents of a bank safe-deposit box for her friend who lives in the south of France. When the distracted truck driver fails to notice the red light in time, Sissi just has time to push Otto onto the pavement before she is hit by the tanker.

Sissi is suddenly lying under a huge red truck. While her body is still, her thoughts start to fly. Bodo, who although he doesn't know it, was partly responsible for the accident, goes to hide under the truck. When he sees Sissi gasping for breath, he reaches for his knife, and saves her life by cutting her windpipe. She carries him with her on the journey to hospital before he disappears into her tunnel of unconsciousness.

"They let me out after 53 days. The doctor said it was a miracle. But the man was gone. No-one saw him. I'm the only one who knows he was there." (Sissi)

There's a celebratory afternoon tea to mark Sissi's return to Birkenhof. "I'm afraid that nothing will be as it was before", Sissi says. But Otto knows better: "You're afraid that everything will stay as it was before."

Together, they set out to try and find the mysterious man who saved Sissi's life. In a weapons shop, they meet Schmatt (Jürgen Tarrach), who tells them the name of the man they are looking for. But when Sissi eventually comes face to face with him, Bodo wants nothing to do with her and rejects her gruffly.

She goes back at night, in the driving rain to tell him his behaviour is not on. Whilst she is there, Walter explains the reasons for Bodo's strange behaviour: His wife was killed in a gas station explosion when he was in the toilet. "He's always out there at the petrol station, sitting on the loo, waiting for it not to be true, to get off the toilet and for everything to be good again. Like it was before. That's why he has to get away from here, right away from here. Out of the toilet." When Bodo comes home, he even gets physical with Sissi in a bid to keep her from his body, heart and soul.

The next time they meet is in the bank. Sissi is having her friend's safety deposit-box opened, whilst down in the cellar, Bodo and Walter's robbery is going wrong. Instead of walking out of the bank with the other customers, she's magically drawn to Bodo. In an argument with the security guards, Walter is shot. Sissi helps the brothers to escape, takes Walter to hospital and Bodo to Birkenhof in order to hide him. Once there, he quickly becomes the object of mistrustful and jealous looks from the patients. The events escalate. When Bodo hears about his brother's death in the news, he loses control and is put in a cell to calm down. Steini calls the police and tries to murder his competitor.

In the end, Sissi and Bodo take a daring leap towards a new life, but before they can flee to the south of France, they have to leave the ghosts of their past behind…

Cast & Crew


Werner Dürr

Als Gäste:
Sissis Mutter
Security Typ 1
Security Typ 2
Azubi Bank
Bank Filialleiter
Pförtner Birkenhof
Meikes Mutter
Tankstellenmann 1
Tankstellenmann 2
LKW Fahrer

1. Kunde Laden Schmatt
2. Kunde Laden Schmatt
Arzt Notaufname
Schwester Notaufnahme
Pfleger Notaufnahme
Nachrichtensprecher "Akt. Stunde"
Nachrichtensprecherin "Lokalzeit"
Polizist Birkenhof
Pflegerin Birkenhof

Patienten Birkenhof
Franka Potente
Benno Fürmann
Joachim Król
Lars Rudolph
Melchior Beslon
Ludger Pistor

Jürgen Tarrach
Natja Brunckhorst
Marita Breuer
Sabina Riedel
Jörg Reimers
Sebastian Schipper
Armin Krug
Karl-Heinz Dickmann
Jana Schröder
Georg Martin Bode
Georg Zurhelle
Peter Götz Korn
Marcel Segmüller
Michael Hanemann
Heiner Voigt
Eva Wolfertz
Ralf Knebel
Piet Paes
Jürgen Blumenthal
Ercan Sagnak
Winfried Walgenbach
Manfred Götting
Tom Spieß
Axel Siefer
Eva Pliego
Frank Dukovski
Frank Plasberg
Ina Kiesewetter
Dirk Brand
Thomas Wipper
Frauke Jacob

Christian Beucker
Hannelore Duwe-Scherwat
Elmar Goebel
Horst Kellermann
Marion Kempf
Hilke Kluth
Hans-Rolf Marks
Heinz Meyer
Anna Isabel Mohrhenn
Heike Müller
Renate naujoks
Bina Noss
Eva Peukert
Andreas Schmitz
Dennis Stange


Regie und Drehuch

1. Aufnahmeleiter
2. Aufnahmeleiter
Assistent Filmgeschäftsführung
Assistent Aufnahmeleitung


Set Runners

Aufnahmeleiter Hilfen

Produktionskoordination Berlin
Filmgeschäftsführung Berlin
Produktionsassistenz Berlin

Juristische Beratung

Location Scout

1. Regie Assistent
2. Regie Assistentin
Praktikantin Regieassistenz
Continuity Aushilfe
Betreuung Melchior Beslon
Berater Psychiatrie


Casting Special Thanks

Taekwon Do Beratung


1. Kamera Assistent
Material Assistentin
2. Material Assistent
Steadicam Operator
Operator 2. Kamera
Motion Control

Zusätzliche Kamerateams


Szenenbild Assistenz
Set Dressers

Aussenrequisite Assistenz
Praktikantin Innenrequisite
Praktikant Art Dept.
Aushilfen Art Dept.

Baubetreuung Dreh

Bauten fake film construction



Fahrer Bauteam

Kostümbild Assistentin
1. Garderobe
2. Garderobe


Zusatz Maskenbildnerin


Zusatz Beleuchter

Dolly Grip
Grip Assistent
Grip Aushilfe


Catering Komparserie


Services in Cornwall provided by
Production Manager
Location Manager
Prop Buyer/Prop Master
Prop Assistant
Unit Drivers

Transport Spielfahrzeuge

Tonbearbeitung Rohschnitt
Tonkoordination Postproduktion
Tonmeister Sprachsynchron
O-Ton Schnitt
Tonschnitt Assistenz

Postproduktion Ton

Digital Special Effects
Digital Effects Producer
Digital Effects Supervisor
Production Coordinator
Domino Artists

Inferno Artists

Technical Director






Kamera- Licht- Gripequipment

Flugaufnahmen Wuppertal
Flugaufnahmen Cornwall
Wescam provided by
Wescam Cameraman
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AVID Schneideraum
Fachberatung Polizei/SEK




Music Supervisor
Tom Tykwer
Stefan Arndt
Maria Köpf
Stefaan Schieder
Uli Neumann
Steffi Hiller
Dorothee Specht
Arno Neubauer
Edgar Kroll
Tilmann Vierzig
Jörg Kobel
Sandra Wollgast

Jochen Behlr
Tim Großkurth
Sebastian Kuhn

Jan Steffen
Imke Eichhorn
Mark Wittek
Matthias Kraft
Stephan Kahl
Giesela Liesenfeld
Simone Winkler
Ruth Mainka
Franziska Linke
Andro Steinborn

Frank Meter
Wolfgang W. Werner
Bernd Spauck

Sebastian Fahr
Tanja Däberitz
Susanne Petersen
Pauline Bolle
Patrik Poch
Katja Sambeth
Frank Langenbach

Gloria Plötzer
Sabine Schwedhelm

An Dorthe Braker

Buff Connection
Volkhart Buff
Michael Bornhütter

Sandra Barger
Katja Richter
Dani Stein
Jügen Blumenthal
Michael Bornhütter
Micha Breidenstein
Frank Christoffer
Georg Ebinal
Gerd Giesen Ralf Knebel
Stefan Langel
Günther Lords
Alister Mazotti
Piet Paes
Matthias Rehring
Ernst Reihmann
Randolph Wittur

Frank Griebe
Jan Hartmann
Anja Simon
Timo Schwarz
Jörg Widmer
Jan Hartmann
Jan Bernotat
Mitch Enzmann

Eike Schweikhardt
Andre Schneider
Frantek Brandt
Martin Bethge
Christian Spee

Mathilde Bonnefoy

Uli Hanisch
Kai Koch
Thorsten Sabel
Dagmar Wessel
Stefan Isfort
Ulrike Stecker
Andrea Kessler
Kerstin Krötz
Martin Voss
Knud Densow
Stefan Prothmann
Oliver Koch
Christoph Steeger
Daniel Peek

Uli Langenberg
Joachim Monninger
Frak Ehlers

Uwe Belke
Dieter Schmidt
Markus Baum
Geri Beil
Martin Küster
Stefan Dörsch
Axel Speichert
Stefan Werns
Doriano Quintavalle
Frank Weber
Ralph Henning
Sebastian Hahn
Georg Schneider
Andreas Schmalisch
Frank Wittek

Mieke Casal
Oliver Kostecka
Uwe Brauner
Utta Hagen

Tanja Aller

Werner Blum
Ebbi Noack

Monika Jacobs
Ingrid Buhrmann
Martina Jeddicke
Ulli Wachsmuth

Margit Neufink
Waldemar Pokromski
Birgit Herber

Fred Dombrowka
Peter Dombrowka
Carsten Bauer
Stefan Schauerte
Oliver Bromme

Hans Vieth
Ergun Cankaya
Christian Hupfer
Matthias Gruber
Joachim Sonntag
Pascal Robertus
Gill Zeadkiyahoo
Martin Neuse
Ingo Scheel
Nils Rausch
Thorsten Weiden

Michael Müller
Elmar Suska
Holger Fey

Mirko Andreas
Johanna Anastassiou-Brix
Tobias Lauhenbach
Katrin Andreas


Flash Art

West Country Locations
Roger Elliot
Manus Home
Heydn Buckingham-Jones
Dahilia Sheringston
Eddie Armstrong
John Ailes
Tony Buchholz
Achim Siemers

Gebrüder Wilms
Annette Muff
Marita Strokötter
Splendid Synchon
Frank Maraite
Kai Tebbel
Guido Zettier
Lars Ginzel
Joern Poetzl
Phillip Sellier
Christine Badura
Markus Münz
Dirk Jacob
Matthias Lempert
Ruhrsound Studios

Thomas Tannenberger
Dominik Trimborn
Andreas Schnellenberg
Nastuh Abootalebi
George Maihöfer
Niko Papoutsis
Olli Stück
Jörn Meier
David Hofmann
Morutz Peters
Martin Krefft
Matthias Schrafenberg
Julian Reischel
Melanie Göggelmann
Elena Blum

Gerhart Spring

Arri München
Sepp Reidinger
Renate Siegl
Sandra Stier
Ingrid Lingenberg

Angela Reedwisch
Floran Martin

Thomas Wilk

Special Camera Systems

Rainbow Helicopters
Castle Air
Aerial Camera Systems
Grahamm Berry
Oliver Ward

Concept AV Berlin
Jürgen Andermann
Klaus Maas
Peter Hollweg
Emergency Room Essen
Transportvermittlung Niederhoff
Medias Reiseservice
First Bussiness Travel
Anne-Francoise Pyszora
Ralph Eue
Bhf Bank München
Franz Gossler, Jr.

Gebhard Henke
Katja De Bock

Katrin Erichsen
X Music

How difficult is it to make the first film after the success of RUN LOLA RUN?

The trick was to just keep on working. I had started writing THE PRINCESS AND THE WARRIOR before RUN LOLA RUN was released, when I still had no idea what would happen to the film. It meant I had something to hold onto, something which had nothing to do with the fact that I had a massive success. So I made this film in the same way I always make films: Personal, individual films for a big audience.

After the lightening liberation pace of RUN LOLA RUN, you went back to a calmer, more concentrated rhythm.

WINTER SLEEPERS was one side of our generation, the massive apathy, if you like. But I'm in no way a phlegmatic person. I wanted RUN LOLA RUN to crush the idea that we have no strength. It might be a bit undirected, but it is there. Being able to express this energy freed up my head to be able to return, in a more relaxed way to the subjects which interest me, and which were present in RUN LOLA RUN in a different way.

Your stories always start with an image, what was it in THE PRINCESS AND THE WARRIOR?

It was under the truck, the moment when you don't know what led to a woman lying under a truck talking to herself. I had read something somewhere about tracheotomy, the windpipe incision, and I had repeatedly had people explain to me how to do it. You really can't do anything wrong: where it is hard, there is air beneath it. It has a spectacularly bitter taste to it, but in essence it is really very simple. I liked the basic constellation of having two people get closer than they might ever come to anyone else in their whole lives, before they have even got to know each other. The meeting under the truck is an incredibly physical and in a strange way, sensual scene.

Is that the reason why they barely touch in the film, and never kiss one another?

Yes. Because there was so much closeness, the conquest has to happen in a different way. For me, a very important premise of the film was to have one person who doesn't actually know much about love, meet someone else who doesn't want anything more to do with love. Experience meets inexperience. And that also made the tension between the two of them less physical, and meant that they have to try and understand each other first.




Als Liebhaber minimalistischer Klänge, wie die von Arvo Pärt, Philipp Glass und dem Penguin Café Orchestra, waren es besonders diese Sounds, die den Regisseur und Drehbuchautor Tom Tykwer während der gesamten Schaffensphase an DER KRIEGER UND DIE KAISERIN inspirierten und begleiteten. Nach ersten gemeinsamen Erfahrungen mit WINTERSCHLÄFER, sowie dem weltweiten Erfolg seines letzten Films (und der dazugehörigen Soundtrack-CD) LOLA RENNT, war sehr schnell klar, dass Tykwer auch für diesen Film wieder mit seinen Partnern Reinhold Heil (Spliff, Nina Hagen Band, Babyloon, etc.) und Johnny Klimek (Producer von u.a. Dr. Motte, Paul Van Dyk) zusammenarbeiten würde: "Wir drei verstehen uns mittlerweile blind. Ich weiss, wenn ich ein Drehbuch oder auch nur Fragmente davon an Johnny und Reinhold schicke, dass sie sofort beginnen sich Gedanken zu machen, die dem Film und seiner Atmosphäre helfen werden."

Während Tykwer mit den Dreharbeiten begann, suchten der Deutsche Reinhold Heil in Santa Barbara und der Australier Johnny Klimek in Berlin bereits nach Ideen und Sounds für den späteren Score. Heil erzählt: "Toms Drehbuch war so intensiv und plastisch, dass ich bereits nach der ersten Lektüre spontan einige Einfälle hatte. Zum Beispiel bastelte ich sehr früh an einem Sound für die Anstalt, auch wenn wir diesen später gar nicht verwendet haben..."

Die endgültige Vertonung des Filmmaterials fand ebenfalls sehr spontan statt. Der ehemalige Spliff-Musiker erinnert sich: "Wir trafen uns jeden Abend, nachdem Tom den Tag mit der Cutterin am endgültigen Schnitt verbracht hatte. Er präsentierte uns eine fertige Szene, und wir begannen sie sofort zu bearbeiten. Ein unheimlich spontaner und vielleicht dadurch sehr fruchtbarer Prozess."

Tykwer erklärt weiter: "Die Musik dieses Films hatte eine Aufgabe zu erfüllen. Sie musste die Entwicklung und den Weg der beiden Hauptfiguren unterstreichen können. Im Vergleich zu LOLA RENNT spielen Gefühlsschwankungen und Träume eine erheblich grössere Rolle. Durch diese Art der Bearbeitung waren wir aber ständig mit der jeweiligen Gemitssituation der Figuren voll vertraut."

Ebenfalls ungewöhnlich – und wahrscheinlich sogar einmalig – ist die resultierende und nun bei Motor Music zur Veröffentlichung anstehende Soundtrack-CD. Diese enthült zwar Musik aus dem Film, aber eben nicht einfach nur einen Score: "Irgendwann kam uns die Idee, dass wir aus der untermalenden Musik durchaus auch echte Songs herausarrangieren könnten", schildert Heil den Ansatz der drei Tüftler, die sich von nun an Pale 3 nennen werden und aufgrund der intensiven und kreativen Zusammenarbeit auch zukünftige, musikalische Projekte ausserhalb der Bearbeitung bewegter Bilder nicht mehr ausschliessen wollen. "Da die treibende Kraft im Film Sissi ist, empfanden wir es alle als völlig normal, bei der Auflistung unserer Wunschkandidaten für die Vocals nahezu ausschliesslich auf weibliche Interpreten zurückzugreifen." Tykwer ergänzt: "Im Film hätten die Vokalstücke längst nicht so gut funktioniert. Aber mit den auf einzelne Szenen zugeschnittenen Texten und dem durchgehend sehr ausdrucksstarken Gesang kann der Hörer die Gefühle und Motive der Handlung erheblich besser nachempfinden, wenn er später die CD ohne den Film hört."


Press cuttings

Frankfurter Allgemeine


Die Welt

Die Welt

Süddeutsche Zeitung


Süddeutsche Zeitung


Die Zeit

Die Zeit