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Puppet Grave Digger, The (Puppengraeber, Der)

Puppet Grave Digger, The
Scene from "The Puppet Grave Digger" (photo © filmpool Koeln 2003)

A small, close-knit village is plagued by a series of mysterious murders and disappearances. Trude is worried about her mentally handicapped son Ben, who is 18-years-old and has the body of a grown man, but the mind of a small child. Every night, Ben takes off into the cornfields and witnesses the village’s “nightly activities”. One of Ben’s peculiarities is that he always brings back small gifts for his mother; pieces of wood, rocks, and sometimes even dead mice, which they then bury in the garden. Then one night, Ben comes home with a pair of women’s underwear, and shortly thereafter, with a severed finger. In an attempt to prevent her son from becoming the prime suspect in the string of abductions, Trude gets rid of his “evidence”. However, the village inhabitants become increasingly suspicious of Ben when his violent outbreaks start occurring more frequently. Even Ben’s own father starts to doubt his son’s innocence. Only Heinz, a lawyer and the local commissioner is on Trude’s side and helps fight to keep Ben from being sent away to a home.

But Trude knows that several others in the village have skeletons in their own closets. She sees and hears things, but keeps it all to herself. When Ben comes home one day covered in blood, even Trude starts to doubt her faith in what Ben is capable of. Are the dead bodies hidden in Ben’s hunting grounds? Is her son a murderer? Or is he just imitating the violence he is witness to every night and being used as a scapegoat to cover the identity of the real killer? When Ben’s own beloved sister and her girlfriend disappear one night, everyone is convinced that Ben has something to do with the murders…

Claudia Prietzel was born in 1958 in Gelsenkirchen. After working in a puppet theater in Bochum, she trained as an actress and dancer in London. She then returned to Germany and studied at the German Academy of Film & Television (dffb) in Berlin. Her films include: Die Blattlaus (TV, 1991), Kuppke (TV, 1996), Kinder ohne Genade (TV, 1996), Das vergessene Leben (TV, 1997), Nur das Blaue vom Himmel (TV, 2000), as well as The Puppet Grave Digger (Der Puppengraeber,TV, 2002) and Erste Liebe (TV, 2003), both in co-direction with Peter Henning.

Peter Henning was born in 1960 in Hamburg. He studied Media Sciences, Literature and Sociology in Osnabrueck followed by studies at the German Academy of Film & Television (dffb) in Berlin. He then earned much acclaim as a director, writer and cameraman on such projects as the film adaptations of Heiner Mueller's Die Hamletmaschine and Samuel Beckett's Das letzte Band. He began collaborating with Claudia Prietzel in 1991 with the film Blattlaus. His other films include: Der Zauberkasten (1990), Kuppke (TV, 1996), Nur das Blaue vom Himmel (TV, 2000), as well as The Puppet Grave Digger (Der Puppengraeber, 2002) and Erste Liebe (TV, 2003), both in co-direction with Claudia Prietzel.
Genre Thriller, Drama
Category TV Movie
Year of Production 2002
Directors Claudia Prietzel, Peter Henning
Screenplay Christoph Busch
Cinematography David Slama
Sabine Brose
Andreas Weiser
Frank Godt
Cast Markus Hering, Manfred Zapatka, Bernd Tauber, Sven Hoenig, Suzanne von Borsody
Producer Katrin Kuhn
Production Company Filmpool Film- & Fernsehproduktion/Cologne, in co-production with WDR
Length 89 min
Format Super 16, color
Original Version
Subtitled Version English
Sound Technology Stereo
With backing from Film- und Medienstiftung NRW
German Distributor STUDIOCANAL/Berlin

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