Berlinale: horror with crackpot sausage

Fatih Akin is now in horror. In time for the 69th Berlinale the German director has the bestseller The golden glove filmed by Heinz Strunk. The book tells the story of the real woman murderer Fritz Honka, who raised his victims in the 1970s on the Hamburger Kiez. The novel thrives on the Bukovsky streams of consciousness of its characters: prostitutes, war veterans, economic miracle losers, homeless people. The vast majority of them are alcoholics and spend the whole day in the pub "The Golden Glove" – ​​like Honka. "Some sit here for twenty, thirty hours," says the novel. "One day, two days and nights hung motionless on his stool, he was already dead, but because of the change of shift, but no one has noticed." Akin took the passage literally in his film as in many places dialogues of the template. These are the best moments of the movie.

People talk about Hamburg dialect or another when life has taken them from their homeland to St. Pauli. Honka, for example, came from Saxony. In 1951, after fleeing a suicide attempt, he escaped from the East Zone and soon afterwards found lodgings in the Lüneburg Heath with a farmer who was the first person to take good care of him. But the little luck lasted only two years. Later, another farmer made him so that Honka lost his teeth and his face remained deformed. That's all in the novel. Fatih Akin but was not interested in it. He did not want anything biographical, "no past", he says in an interview after the film screening. "What do I know why the honka is like that?" In his opinion, the man was simply "sick" and had "not all cups in the cupboard". So the filmmaker has omitted everything explanatory, arranger of the figure. What remains is the sheer horror.

Even more abruptly than the novel Akin dazzles directly into the gruesome events around the first murder that commits Honka. Up close and in full length, we see him struggling to stuff a woman's body into a plastic bag. It does not work. Although Honka tied the legs of the woman and her body into a package. So he wants to saw everything. After a few extra sips of schnapps he starts. "It's not that easy to cut someone's head off," says Akin. It's probably not, and so the sound and the length of the shot Akin staged this act are as close to reality as possible. And certainly not for the faint of heart.

Then an Oldesloer grain

Akin loves the horror genre. He had come to filmmaking in the first place, he says, "even kids like this horror drama". And the serial killer is indeed such a popular cultural figure. Maybe that's why his main actor Jonas Dassler moves like Frankenstein once, as did Boris Karloff. Where Akin prefers Fassbinder as a reference, especially his melodrama Merchant of the four seasons from 1972. Because of the precise observation of the time back then and the illumination: a lot of neon light, a lot of cigarette smoke.

The tables in the "Golden Glove" are made of Resopal, the curtains are heavy and yellowed by the many tipping smoke, the coffee is drunk black from cups with colorful edges, but mostly Oldesloer grain is drunk. Or Fako, then there's a bit more Fanta in the grain. Sometimes there's a crackpot sausage. Akin has an infallible knack for mapping that milieu; He also likes to tell that he knows contemporary witnesses, "Kiezleute", who say that's exactly how it was. Remains of this scene exist so far between Hamburger Berg, Talstraße and Reeperbahn. But because Akin has robbed his characters of every story, the milieu remains mainly Staffage, a pin-up poster to the perfect backdrop for his horror movie. Lack of money Akin would have his novel adaptation almost transplanted into the present time, he says. After all, the end of the GDR was just as present to people today as it was to people at the end of the Second World War. There's always an underclass. Murderers like Honka too. Already possible that the movie would have worked in the same way. With a little less show value.

The fact that the film is now running in the Berlinale International Competition is certainly a stroke of luck for Akin. His next project is not completely dry. The golden glove could be a good recommendation there. Finally, Akin is to film a Stephen King template.

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