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DEATHMAKER, THE (TOTMACHER, DER)

DEATHMAKER, THE

In 1924 - when Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau's THE LAST LAUGH is made, Thomas Mann's The Magic Mountain appears, and Adolf Hitler is charged in Munich with high treason - a criminal case in Hanover causes a stir among the German public. The businessman Fritz Haarmann admits to having killed 24 young men and having cut up their bodies. He rejects the accusation of cannibalism. The psychiatric report, which is to clarify the question of Haarmann's soundness of mind, is commissioned from Professor Dr. Ernst Schulze. In August 1924, six weeks of examinations begin in the Provincial Mental Asylum in Goettingen. The conversations are recorded by a stenographer and serve as the basis for this film. The texts are authentically reproduced. The film's plot takes place entirely in the examination room of Professor Schulze. The most awful murderer of the 20th century, as Fritz Haarmann was described, inspired artists, writers and film directors like George Grosz and Alfred Hrdlicka, Alfred Doeblin (for the figure of Franz Biberkopf in Berlin Alexanderplatz) and Fritz Lang (for Peter Lorre's role in M).


Romuald Karmakar was born in 1965. He has been working as an independent filmmaker since 1985 and shot a series of short films and documentaries. In 1995 he directed his first fiction feature film The Deathmaker (Der Totmacher), which received numerous awards, among them the Silver Lion in Venice for Best Actor, three German Film Awards in Gold in 1996, and was the German entry for the OSCAR for Best Foreign Language Film in 1997. His other films include: Eine Freundschaft in Deutschland (1985), Coup de Boule (1987), Gallodrome (1988), Dogs of Velvet and Steel (Hunde aus Samt und Stahl, 1989), Demontage IX, Unternehmen Stahlglocke (1991), Warheads (1989-1992), The Tyrant of Torino (Der Tyrann von Turin, 1994), Infight (1994), Frankfurt Millennium (Das Frankfurter Kreuz, 1997), Manila (2000) - which won the Silver Leopard at Locarno in 2000, The Himmler Project (2000), 196 BPM (2002), Nightsongs (Die Nacht singt ihre Lieder, 2003), based on the drama by Jon Fosse, and Land of Annihilation (Land der Vernichtung, documentary, 2003).
Genre Drama
Category Feature
Year of Production 1995
Director Romuald Karmakar
Screenplay Michael Farin, Romuald Karmakar
Cinematography Fred Schuler (A.S.C.)
Peter Przygodda
Toni Luedi
Cast Juergen Hentsch, Goetz George, Pierre Franckh
Producer Thomas Schuely
Production Company Pantera Film/Berlin, in co-production with WDR, SWF/Baden-Baden
Length 114 min
Format 35 mm, color
Original Version
 German
Subtitled Version English
Sound Technology Dolby SR
Festivals Venice 1995 (In competition), Berlin 1995, BAFICI Buenos Aires 2008 (Retrospective)
Awards Volpi Best-Actor-Award Venice 1995, 3 German Film Award 1996
With backing from Filmförderung Hamburg Schleswig-Holstein, Filmbuero NW
German Distributor Warner Bros. Pictures

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