Feature Films/Series

„Friedrich – Ein deutscher König“
(Friedrich – A German King)


Targeting a prime time slot on ARD, yet with a limited budget, the commissioning broadcaster’s objective was to use the historical figure of Frederick the Great to explore an unfamiliar historical period. At the same time, they wished to liberate the image of this frequently re-visited character from the spirits and constructs of the past; to create something fresh, and entirely new.


The casting of Anna and Katharina Thalbach as the young and the old Frederick was a coup for the creators. Besides the two actresses’ media impact, the aim was to subtly thematise the socio-cultural constructs of the rococo era, as well as the ambiguous sexuality of the most famous Prussian king. FORTIMA co-founder Jan Peter also considered the most important objective of this project to be to use history as a mirror for ourselves, and to create a fresh and unexpected narrative.

The response to the film was huge, and continues to this day.


Genre: Documentary Feature Film // Format: 16 mm Film // Production Year: 2011 // Budget: c. 1.2 million € // Running Time: 90 minutes

Author: Yury Winterberg, Jan Peter // Producer: Daniel Remsperger // Line Producer: Frank Schmuck // Production Manager: Lilly Woszniak // Production Design: Anna Heymann // Costume Design: Sonja Hesse // Makeup: Katrin Westerhausen // Music: Nikolai Tomás, Jean Marie Gilles // Sound: Johannes Doberenz // Cinematography:  Jürgen Rehberg // Editing and Graphics: Susanne Schiebler // Director: Jan Peter

Production: DOKFilm Babelsberg, commissioned by ARTE, RBB, SWR, MDR und WDR, supported by Mitteldeutsche Medienförderung and Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg

Executive Producer: Jost Bösenberg

Commissioning Editors: Johannes Unger, Rolf Bergmann, Jens Stubenrauch (RBB), Dagmar Mielke (RBB/ARTE), Gerolf Karwath (SWR), Ulrich Brochhagen (MDR)

Cast: Katharina Thalbach (der alte Fritz), Anna Thalbach (der junge Fritz), Oliver Naegele (Friedrich Wilhelm I.), Christina Große (Sophie Dorothea) u.a.

Interviews with: Christopher Clark (Cambridge), Monika Kurtzel-Runtscheiner (Wien) and Hartmut Dorgeloh (Potsdam)

Press Review

„History has rarely been so entertaining!“

TV Today

„A tour de force by ARD: FriedriKA the Great!“

TV Spielfilm

„This film is extraordinarily emotionally enlightening, thanks to its two female protagonists. Through the ‚Thalbach gaze‘, the sorrow that lies behind power and splendour penetrates the modern-day viewer”

Nikolai von Festenberg, Spiegel-Online

„This reconception of the ‚trouser role‘ functions remarkably well. Man or woman – a few minutes in, the question becomes irrelevant – thanks to Katharina Thalbach who, by the end, is an ‚old Fritz‘ that Otto Gebühr himself could never have pulled off‘.


“Katharina Thalbach as the older Frederick leaves no hint that a woman hides beneath the clothes – thanks to the costume designers and makeup artists. She stomps across the battlefield like a fine figure of a man“.


Artwork by Suse Schiebler

Dinner party at the court of Frederick William I, filmed in Schloß Oranienbaum.

Director Jan Peter in dicussion with Katharina Thalbach.

Katharina Thalbach in her starring role as Frederick the Great.

Anna Thalbach (front, middle) as the younger crown prince Frederick, during the shoot at Schloß Oranienbaum.

Christina Große (front) as Sophie Dorothea and Anna Willecke as Wilhelmine of Prussia.