‘Afire’ is a German drama movie that revolves around four young individuals — Leon, Felix, Nadja, and Devid — who meet and spend time with each other in a secluded holiday home on the Baltic Sea in a hot and dry summer. Sooner rather than later, a forest fire starts in the area surrounding the property where they are staying. Surrounded by fire, the individuals feel some spark between each other as well, as feelings of love and desire spark inside the house.
Apart from happiness and longing, the fire outside symbolizes the tensions, jealousy, and sensitivities inside. Directed by Christian Petzold, the film explores a bunch of realistic themes, including friendship and love, which is enough to make the audience pose the question — is ‘Afire’ rooted in reality? Well, if you wish to find out, let’s explore the same in detail, shall we?
Is Afire a True Story?
No, ‘Afire’ is not based on a true story. Instead, the director Christian Petzold, who is also responsible for the movie’s screenplay, used his imaginative mind, brilliant penmanship, and several years of experience in the industry to conjure up an intriguing and realistic storyline for the drama movie. In 2020, Petzold, after being done with ‘Undine,’ a tale surrounded by the theme of water, revealed that he was working on his next project, which would be related to the theme of “fire.”
The filmmaker wanted it to be something real, something involving love, kissing, and gay romance too. At the same time, he was considering a dystopian setting for his next film. However, things and his mindset changed after he got struck with COVID-19. During the time he was bedridden, he had many fever dreams, portions of which worked their way into his script.
In a July 2023 interview with Slant, Petzold explained how his idea for the script changed and his plans after he recovered from the illness. At that time, he had grown tired of dystopian societies and thought most tended to lean towards a fascist angle. So, he believed that the world was a fantastic place and definitely worth fighting for, which made him change his ideas and himself for the better.
Petzold also revealed how the films of Eric Rohmer and the works of Chekhov, which he delved in during the time he was bedridden, inspired him to come up with the screenplay for ‘Afire.’ In another July 2023 interview with NPR, he said, “During this time, I lay down and have to lay down in bed. I was – also the main actress, Paula Beer, was also infected, too, and there was a gift from our distributor from France. It was the whole work of Eric Rohmer. And in these four weeks during our fever dreams, we have – would see all the Rohmer movies. The French people have a summer movie genre – people at the beach.”
Petzold further expanded, “They start laughing. They find their selves. They find their identities. But we haven’t got this in Germany. The Americans have a summer movie genre, too. Sometimes it’s a horror movie, but it’s also something to do with youth and getting adult and finding an identity and so on.” Thus, by keeping all the things mentioned above in mind, we can conclude that ‘Afire’ is far from a true story but an amalgamation of the writer’s imagination and inspiration from other works of art.
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