Berlin Review: ‘Ted K’ Delves Into World Of The Unabomber


Director Tony Stone dives into the world of “Unabomber” Ted Kaczynski in Ted K, premiering in the Panorama hair of the Berlin Film Festival. More of a state of mind piece than a biopic, it stars a downplayed Sharlto Copley as the previous mathematics teacher, whos living off grid in the Montana mountains, fostering a growing grudge against technology.
Sound is essential to communicating Teds point of view. In the wilderness, we hear the ripple of a stream, the crackle of a fire, the clank of his spoon on a tin– he is alone and continuous. When an aircraft flies over, hes visibly distressed. The voiceover (based on his works) becomes almost inaudible under the sound of traffic when he takes a journey into the city. When hes feeling more satisfied; electronic intrudes when problem is afoot, classical music appears to be used. It strikes you that this would sound amazing in a motion picture theater, but this is 2021, and last we heard even Stone had not seen his feature in one.

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Director Tony Stone delves into the world of “Unabomber” Ted Kaczynski in Ted K, premiering in the Panorama hair of the Berlin Film Festival. At this point, the camera begins whirling around the phone booth– its giddying, practically nauseating, creating a sense of the discomfort Ted experiences when speaking to others.
Like several movie incels before him– most recently Joaquin Phoenixs Joker– Ted retreats into a dream world when it comes to women. While this prospers in putting us into Teds physical world– claustrophobic even in the wild– it does not provide a deep insight into his mind. Possibly that is the point, however it makes Ted K more excellent for its use of noise and vision than its investigation of a character.

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Authenticity is clearly vital to the filmmakers, who fastidiously recreated Kaczynskis cabin in its original area. While this is successful in putting us into Teds physical world– claustrophobic even in the wild– it does not provide a deep insight into his mind. Possibly that is the point, but it makes Ted K more remarkable for its use of noise and vision than its investigation of a character.

On the small screen, its a quietly involving watch that offers an insight into Kaczynskis distressed mind with a climatic strength; however with less details than a standard function or documentary. There are benefits in decoding the behavior of this evasive character, however the same points are repeated: generally, he is a socially uncomfortable, paranoid, only conspiracist. These traits are best established in one-sided telephone call in a remote, creaky phone booth. In an early conversation with his mom, Ted is plainly scolded for his lack of social abilities. Ted blames her for putting him ahead two years at high school, and for his resulting lack of sexual experience (” Well, who do you desire me to inform? Who should I tell this to, Ma?”). At this point, the video camera starts whirling around the phone cubicle– its giddying, nearly nauseating, creating a sense of the discomfort Ted experiences when speaking with others.
Like a number of motion picture incels before him– most recently Joaquin Phoenixs Joker– Ted retreats into a dream world when it comes to ladies. Like Ted, we do not see the damage he inflicts very first hand: we hear about it on the news.


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