Why do filmmakers plagiarize

Monument project in Berlin : Plagiarism allegation against developers of the unit rocker

The twin brothers Christoph and Wolfgang Lauenstein received the most coveted award in the international film business, the Oscar, for “Balance”. The short film was shown at festivals and cinemas around the world, including in exhibitions, including 25 years in the Bund's “House of History” in Bonn.

Unsteady platform as a unified image

Because the film is considered a parable for the peaceful revolution and German unity - set in the picture with a swaying platform. In short, the film stands for a lot of what the planned Freedom and Unity Monument is supposed to represent.

“Our film Balance lives from its basic idea. It is quite irritating how exactly the same idea of ​​balancing people on a platform should be used for the unified monument in order to convey exactly the same metaphor, "said Oscar-winner Christoph Lauenstein to the Tagesspiegel. The reproach weighs heavily. Plagiarism costs academics and politicians academic titles and some their careers. Rock stars paid millions to pacify conflicts with little-known composers who tried to prove they had plagiarized song ideas. Such cases are rather rare in art.

The head of the agency Milla & Partner, whose design “Citizens in Motion” is to be built as a freedom and unity monument at the castle, rejects the allegations: “It is in no way plagiarism,” says Johannes Milla. He himself, creative director Sebastian Letz and the team “never thought of the film”. After the Tagesspiegel query, Milla had "seen him for the first time in 29 years" and stated that the "allegation of plagiarism was irrelevant". Rather, it is about an image that has pervaded European art for centuries: "People together or against each other on a surface."

Art-historical topos or copy? The film stages the parable before the monument was drafted and against the same background of German unity with images that are confusingly similar: people stand on a platform and set it in motion by moving.

But why has nobody asked so far: Does the unit seesaw copy “Balance”? It has been almost 30 years since the first showing of the film, seven years since the monument competition. Milla says: "It is surprising that it takes nine years to raise this serious allegation." Lauenstein, on the other hand, explains the long silence as follows: "We wanted to make a start, but then two large film productions started at the same time," and the Brothers had more important things to do.

But the sting is deep to this day. Now he wants to “just knock this domino over and see what happens then” - he speaks of creative curiosity. This has always driven the twins.

Lauenstein has been running an animation studio with his brother in Hamburg since he unexpectedly won an Oscar, and they direct long films. Her children's film “The legendary four” is currently showing in cinemas. There is no shortage of orders, a remake of “Balance” with today's technology is not ruled out. Because this "parable about egoism versus existentially necessary sense of community, greed versus responsible action is a topic that is more topical today than ever, as the devastating climate problem shows". The short film has been visible free of charge for a limited time since Thursday evening.

Controversial construction project

Milla's design won the 2011 federal competition for a “Freedom and Unity Monument”. But the project remained controversial for a long time. Above all, the parliamentary group of the left in the Bundestag spoke out openly against the new building. The parliamentarians had to be asked twice about the implementation of the draft. Most recently, on June 1, 2017, the Bundestag decided with the majority of the grand coalition to establish the Milla draft. According to reports, the State Ministry for Culture and Media intends to announce the date for the laying of the foundation stone this month.

The Senate was also critical of the project. The way was finally paved for the extension of the building permit, which expired again last year, only after a top-level discussion between the Governing Mayor Michael Müller (SPD) and Minister of State for Culture Monika Grütters (CDU). And thus for the construction of the monument.

Editor's note: On May 13th, the filmmaker Christoph Lauenstein issued a cease and desist declaration to the builder of the Freedom and Unity Monument Johannes Milla with the obligation to no longer declare "that the drafts for the unity monument that are located on the Schloss Freiheit square in Berlin will be built, is wholly or partially about the stealing of a creative achievement, as happened in the email of 09.05.2019 ".

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