Absolute Wilson


For forty years, Robert Wilson ’s aesthetics have left their mark on international theater and opera. In addition, Wilson has made a name for himself as an installation artist. Influenced by such renowned choreographers as George Balanchine , Merce Cunningham and Martha Graham , as well as abstract realist paintings of the 1950s, Wilson has created his own, unmistakable visual language. Katharina Otto-Bernstein accompanied Wilson with her camera for five years in order to make this film. However, the focus of her interest was not only the artist and his famous productions such as “ Einstein on the Beach”(1976) and“ The CIVIL warS ”(1983); for the first time on camera, Robert Wilson also discusses his personal biography. He talks about his youth in Waco, Texas; his learning difficulties and his speech impediment as well as the other hurdles he managed to surmount during his extraordinary career. Those commentating on his life include Wilson's sister Suzanne and numerous contemporaries, colleagues and fellow travelers such as musician David Byrne , publicist Susan Sontag , composer Philip Glass , opera singer Jessye Norman; but also the former creative director of the Paris Opera House, Charles Fabius and many more. In this way, a complex portrait emerges of this controversial all-rounder and his unconventional working methods: “Sometimes you say to yourself: what should I do next? Then you try to think about what the right thing might be. But often what you should be thinking is: what's the wrong thing to do, what should I not do? And then do that. ”


  • Runtime

    109 min
  • Country

    United States, Germany
  • Year of Presentation

  • Year of Production

  • Director

    Katharina Otto-Bernstein
  • Cast

    Robert Wilson, David Byrne, Susan Sontag, Tom Waits
  • Production Company

    Film Manufacturers Inc.
  • Berlinale Section

  • Berlinale Category

    Documentary Film

Biography Katharina Otto-Bernstein

Daughter of the well-known Hamburg industrialist Werner Otto, she studied phi- losophy and politics at Columbia University and acting at Stella Adler Conservatory, graduating in screenwriting and directing from Columbia University in 1993. She has made several documentaries and has also published a book to accompany one of these productions, “Beautopia: The Dark Side of Modeling”. Another book, entitled “Life is Work”, has been published to accompany ABSOLUTE WILSON.

Filmography Katharina Otto-Bernstein

1994 The Second Greatest Story Ever Told | 1998 Beautopia | 2000 The Need for Speed