In 1925, in Germany, Fritz Haarmann is a homosexual, thief and sneak, having a special license from the police. He sells meat in the black market. He also kills boys and young men, drinking their blood, quarter-sewing their bodies and throwing away the parts in a river. Certainly what he sells in the black market is human meat. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Hans Beckert in "M" (1931) and Fritz Haarmann in "Die Zärtlichkeit Der Wölfe" (1973): Both films are based on the true story of the German series killer Fritz Haarmann (1879-1925).
Comparing the two films, one feels the 40 years that lie between them. Peter Lorre, the Beckert of M., is not shown killing his victims. There is no blood, and the story is told as if we would gather it by change through rumors in the street and newspaper reports. On the other side, the magnificent actor Kurt Raab as Haarmann: We see how he picks his victims up - exclusively good-looking young boys. In "M", we are only told about missing little girls - perhaps the combination of series killer and homosexual would have been too much for the audience then. "Tenderness of the Wolves" is also in general much closer to the original Haarmann story - f.ex., when we see how Fritz sells sausages that he had made from the meat of his victims (Haarmann owned a short time a butcher store.) We see how Fritz lives, drinks and sleeps with his victims, and kills them. We also see him getting rid of their corpses in huge plastic bags which he sinks in the river. Nothing at all about the everyday's life of Hans Beckert: All we see him do, is walking up and then down the streets, sometimes visiting an inn for a schnapps. From his apartment that the police enters twice, we see his one table, nothing more. In the case of Fritz, we even meet his nosy and gossipy neighbors. So, when Beckert finally get caught by the horde of the mob, Lorre had to compensate all that what the director did not show us, so that we could not make ourselves a picture about Beckert, the human being. Therefore, Lorre is not allowed to just break together and admit his murders, but he is forced to cry also the motivations of his deeds into the jury. For me, what he is doing, is not convincing. It may have been more shocking in 1931 as it is now, but I doubt that, too. - On the other side, Kurt Raab alias Fritz was allowed to broadcast all his lust that he had with his boys, from the seduction via the intercourse up to his climax: the lethal bite in the neck. At the end, Fritz will say: "I give my life back in God's hands ... but I had them all, the handsomest of the handsomest". We feel his lust and believe him - because he had a chance to show it during the movie, we are his witnesses. But unfortunately nothing like that in M., so that Lorre's Beckert stays an isolated and widely artificially constructed figure, not a human, but a silhouette. On the other side Raab's Haarmann, played by the self-confessed pedophile homosexual Raab: There are moments in the movie where one trembles, if the actor has himself really under control - so good is his acting.
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