A Pass From the Back (Aus Der Tiefe Des Raumes)
Director/Screenplay – Gil Mehmert, Story – Gil Mehmert & Eckhard Preuss, Producers – Philipp Budweg & Johannes Schmid, Photography – Bella Halben, Music – Gerd Baumann, Alex Haas & Stefan Noelle, Special Effects – Pit Rotter, Production Design – Alissa Kolbusch & Johannes Sternagel. Production Company – Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen/d.i.e. Film GmBh
Arndt Schwering-Sohnrey (Hans-Günter Korte), Eckard Preuss (No 10), Mira Bartuschek (Marion), Sandra S. Leonhard (Hannelore), Karl Korte (Old Hans-Günter), Meike Schlüter (Night Nurse), Christoph Maria Herbst (Trainer)
In a retirement home in the present day, the aging Hans-Günter Korte asks a night nurse to bring him a VCR so that he can play a tape. He tells her a story from his youth during the 1960s. He was a fanatical player of the German game of Tipp-Kick (a variation on table football). He made and lovingly painted a special toy player, No 10. After one tournament, the reporter Marion invited him back to her flat. While they were making out, a storm caused No 10 to fall into her bath along with a host of photographic developing chemicals, which were then hit by a lightning bolt, causing No 10 to come to life as a full-sized human being. Hans-Günter discovered No 10 sitting at a bus stop and took him home, although No 10’s ungainly robotic movements soon caused him to stand out in society. Following an argument, Hans-Günter left No 10 back on the bus stop – only for him to be found by a soccer team and taken with them to be a player.
A Pass from the Back is a mild-mannered German comedy. It is as though director/writer Gil Mehmert had taken a fascination with the German game Tipp-Kick (a variation on table football that uses miniature players that can actually kick the ball when tapped on the head) and combined it with a somewhat less serious version of the beautiful children’s film The Indian in the Cupboard (1995) about a toy Indian that comes to life. Or maybe that Mehmert construed the film as a parody on the classic German films of Paul Wegener – The Golem (1914) and The Golem (1920). Much of A Pass from the Back centres around the comic possibilities of the toy footballer (played by Mehmert’s co-writer Eckhard Preuss) come to full-size life and walking around greeting the world as a total blank. Indeed, No 10 is really a variant on Chauncy Gardner in Being There (1979). Mehmert gets a good deal of comic amusement out of the scenes with No 10 trying to deal with the everyday world, although these are played with less of the satiric bite that Being There had.
A Pass from the Back is a likeable film. Gil Mehmert’s comedy is never truly side-splitting but A Pass from the Back has a warmth and amiability. The idea lacks enough to sustain the film all the way towards the end but A Pass from the Back is appealingly well done for all that. The performances are all good, especially Eckard Preuss who has the role of a blank person down perfectly, while there is good support from the cutely nerdy Arndt Schwering-Sohnrey.
Surprisingly enough the theme of toy footballers come to life also became the basis of the subsequent Spanish/Argentinean animated film Metegol (2013).