Tom Tykwer

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Tom Tykwer
Tom Tykwer (Berlin Film Festival 2009).jpg
Tykwer at the 2009 Berlin Film Festival
Born (1965-05-23) 23 May 1965 (age 57)
OccupationFilm director, screenwriter, film composer
Years active1986–present
Marie Steinmann
(m. 2009)

Tom Tykwer (German: [ˈtɪkvɐ]; born 23 May 1965) is a German film director, producer, screenwriter, and composer. He is best known internationally for directing the thriller films Run Lola Run (1998), Heaven (2002), Perfume: The Story of a Murderer (2006), and The International (2009). He collaborated with The Wachowskis as co-director for the science fiction film Cloud Atlas (2012) and the Netflix series Sense8 (2015–2018), and worked on the score for Lana Wachowski's The Matrix Resurrections (2021). Tykwer is also well known as the co-creator of the internationally acclaimed German television series Babylon Berlin.

Early life[edit]

Tykwer was born in Wuppertal, West Germany. Fascinated by film from an early age, he started making amateur Super 8 films at the age of eleven. He later helped out at a local arthouse cinema in order to see more films, including those for which he was too young to buy tickets. After graduating from high school, he unsuccessfully applied to numerous film schools around Europe; he moved to Berlin where he worked as a projectionist. In 1987, at the age of 22, he became the programmer of the Moviemento cinema and became known to German directors as a film buff.[1]


In Berlin, Tykwer met and befriended the filmmaker Rosa von Praunheim, who urged him to create stories from his own experience. He suggested, for example, that Tykwer record arguments with his girlfriend, and turn them into a short film. Because (1990) was screened at the Hof International Film Festival[2] and well received by the audience, which inspired Tykwer to continue pursuing filmmaking. He made a second short film, Epilog (1992), for which he took on personal financial debt, but he also gained valuable technical filmmaking experience. Tykwer wrote the screenplay for—and directed—his first feature film, the psychological thriller Deadly Maria. It aired on German television and had a limited theatrical release in Germany and the international film festival circuit.

In 1994, Tykwer founded the production company X Filme Creative Pool with Stefan Arndt, Wolfgang Becker, and Dani Levy. Tykwer and Becker wrote the screenplay for Life Is All You Get while working on Tykwer's second feature, Winter Sleepers (1997), a much bigger and more complex production than Deadly Maria. Winter Sleepers brought Tykwer to the attention of German cineastes and film festivals, but he was struggling financially.

He knew he needed a new film, and the result was Run Lola Run (1998), which became the most successful German film of 1998, scored $7 million at the US box office, and elevated Tykwer to international fame. As Lola was becoming a success worldwide, Tykwer was already at work on his next film, The Princess and the Warrior, shot in his home town of Wuppertal. The film centered on a love story between a nurse and a former soldier.

Miramax produced his next film, Heaven (2002), based on a screenplay by Polish filmmaker Krzysztof Kieślowski. It was shot in English, starred Cate Blanchett and Giovanni Ribisi, and filmed in Turin and Tuscany. He was approached by French producers to film a short contribution to Paris, je t'aime (2006), a film composed of 20 short films by many famous directors depicting love in Paris. Tykwer shot the 10-minute short film, True, with Natalie Portman and Melchior Beslon. He shot the film quickly with almost no pre-production. The result, Tykwer later said, "symbolises an entire life for me, in just ten minutes."[3] Tykwer shot the film Pink Children (2012) together with 4 German directors about their mentor Rosa von Praunheim.[4]

Tykwer's next film was an adaptation of the novel Perfume by the German novelist Patrick Süskind. It was filmed in the Spanish cities of Figueras, Girona and Barcelona. Tykwer later made his Hollywood debut with the big-budgeted 2009 conspiracy thriller The International, starring Clive Owen and Naomi Watts, which was shot in several locations ranging from Berlin, Milan, New York City, and Istanbul. The film received a lukewarm reception from the public and critics alike.

In 2009, Tykwer signed a petition in support of film director Roman Polanski, calling for his release after Polanski was arrested in Switzerland in relation to his 1977 sexual abuse case[5]

He directed 2016's A Hologram for the King, starring Tom Hanks and Sarita Choudhury, based on a novel by American novelist Dave Eggers.

In 2017, Tykwer co-created the television series Babylon Berlin, directing and writing the screenplay. Set in 1920s Berlin, the series comprises 16 episodes in its first two seasons. A third season premiered in 2020.

Pale 3[edit]

Since Winter Sleepers, the music for all of Tykwer's films (with the exception of Heaven) has been composed by Johnny Klimek, Reinhold Heil, and Tykwer, unusual for a film director. The trio named Pale 3, originally a film scoring group, expanded to produce music unrelated to film.


Year Title Role Notes
Director Writer Producer Composer
1993 Deadly Maria Yes Yes Yes Yes
1997 Life Is All You Get No Yes No No
Winter Sleepers Yes Yes No Yes
1998 Run Lola Run Yes Yes No Yes
1999 Absolute Giganten No No Yes No
2000 The Princess and the Warrior Yes Yes No Yes
2002 Heaven Yes No No No
2003 The Matrix Revolutions No No No Yes Composed "In My Head" under the name Pale 3
2004 Soundless No No Yes No
2006 A Friend of Mine No No Yes No
2006 Perfume: The Story of a Murderer Yes Yes No Yes
2006 Das Herz ist ein dunkler Wald No No Yes No
2009 The International Yes No No Yes
2010 Three Yes Yes No Yes
2010 Soul Boy No No Yes No
2011 Endlich No No Yes No
2012 Cloud Atlas Yes Yes Yes Yes Co-directed with The Wachowskis
2012 Pink Children Yes Yes No Yes
2011 Nairobi Half Life No No Yes No
2013 Culture Hacking No No Yes No
2016 A Hologram for the King Yes Yes No Yes
2021 The Matrix Resurrections[6] No No No Yes Themes by Don Davis,
Co-composed with Johnny Klimek

Other roles



  1. ^ Biography,
  2. ^ "Hof Film Festival". Retrieved 12 March 2012.
  3. ^ True at
  4. ^ "Rosakinder". filmportal. Retrieved 4 November 2021.
  5. ^ "Signez la pétition pour Roman Polanski !". La Règle du jeu (in French). 10 November 2009. Archived from the original on 29 August 2021. Retrieved 29 August 2021.
  6. ^ "Johnny Klimek & Tom Tykwer Scoring Lana Wachowski's 'The Matrix Resurrections'". Film Music Reporter. 7 September 2021. Archived from the original on 7 September 2021. Retrieved 7 September 2021.
  7. ^ Flynn, Gaynor (29 May 2016). "Rewind: The Making Of Inglourious Basterds". FilmInk. Retrieved 14 June 2021.
  8. ^ "Bavarian Film Awards" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 March 2009.
  9. ^ "locationNRW". Retrieved 12 March 2012.
  10. ^ "Bayerisches Landesportal: Ministerpräsident Stoiber verleiht Bayerischen Filmpreis 2006". 19 January 2007. Archived from the original on 9 February 2012. Retrieved 12 March 2012.
  11. ^ "Golden Globe Nominations for 2013".

External links[edit]