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The Deathmaker (1995)
"Der Totmacher" (original title)

 -  Crime | Drama  -  23 November 1995 (USA)
7.7
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Ratings: 7.7/10 from 1,460 users  
Reviews: 11 user | 11 critic

Fritz Haarmann, who has killed at least 27 boys, is questioned by a psychology professor in order to find out whether he is sane and can be held responsible for his crimes. During this ... See full summary »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Götz George ...
Jürgen Hentsch ...
Prof. Dr. Ernst Schultze
Pierre Franckh ...
Stenograph
Hans-Michael Rehberg ...
Kommissar Rätz
Matthias Fuchs ...
Dr. Machnik
Marek Harloff ...
Fürsorgezögling Kress
Christian Honhold ...
Wärter Schweimler
Rainer Feisthorn ...
Arzt
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Storyline

Fritz Haarmann, who has killed at least 27 boys, is questioned by a psychology professor in order to find out whether he is sane and can be held responsible for his crimes. During this interrogation Haarmann reveals his motives and his killing methods. Written by Robert Zeithammel

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Crime | Drama

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Details

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Release Date:

23 November 1995 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Deathmaker  »

Company Credits

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Color:

(Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Quotes

Fritz Haarmann: The boys always asked me, "Fritz, what to you put in there?"
[opens the window, walks up close to the doctor]
Fritz Haarmann: And then I always said, "I'm feeding your FISHES!", that's the way I said it.
See more »

Connections

Featured in Auge in Auge - Eine deutsche Filmgeschichte (2008) See more »

Soundtracks

Ich hatte einen Kameraden
Franz Baumann and Orchestra
Lyrics by Ludwig Uhland
Music by Friedrich Silcher
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User Reviews

 
More horrifying than any cinema-killer, proof that sometimes "less means more"
26 January 2014 | by (Germany) – See all my reviews

If you're interested in real-life-crime films, then this film is a pure recommendation. However, keep in mind, this film is structured more like a chamber-play, carried by two actors: Götz George as child-murderer and cannibal Fritz Haarmann and Jürgen Hentsch as police-psychologist Prof. Dr. Ernst Schultze, who tries to peek into the mind of a monster in human-shape.

Don't expect intricate psycho-games like in "Silence of the Lambs". Don't expect any action; 99.9 percent of the scenes take place in one room alone. And if you're looking for gory murder, move on; there are none. However, when Haarmann talks about his crimes as casually as a butcher would about preparing cattle for consumption, I can guarantee you that you'll be grateful that those scenes are "only" in your head.

Some people have pointed out that George would have deserved an Oscar for his performance and I couldn't agree more. George had been best known as TV-policeman Schimanski, probably the most iconic character from the whole "Tatort"-Series. But as is often with such cases, George had grown sick of been typecast and wanted to break the mold. With "Der Totmacher" (and around the same time with the TV-Thriller "Der Sandmann") he managed to do just that and establish himself among the great actors of his generation.

Within seconds the memory of Schimanksi, the tough street-cop with a heart of gold, is forgotten and there is only Fritz Haarmann: A seemingly harmless figure, at times even timid and child-like, intellectually and mentally retarded, plagued by a bad childhood and at times unable to understand what's going on around him. But since the story is based on the original files, we know that this is a cunning psychopath, convicted of the murder of 24 boys (there may have been more), whom he killed often by biting their throats and turning their flesh into sausage, often offering his neighbors some of his "home-cooking". As Haarmann and Schultze grown more comfortable (for the lack of a better word) with each other, there always looms the question of how much Haarmann actually plays the fool (Haarmann had worked as a snitch for the police prior to his arrest and was often described as by no means as simple as he presented himself during interrogation).

Jürgen Hentschs performance is no less impressive. He plays the sober, proficient psychologist, who tries to maintain the necessary professional distance from his "subject", but being only human, cannot always conceal his emotions and personal opinions about this monster he has to work with. These range from suspicions to disgust and at times, even pity and sympathy. In other words: Hentsch is almost a catalyst for what the viewers will feel.

I often wondered: Had some director attempted a similar cinematic "experiment" with the Thomas Harris figure Hannibal Lecter, would it have been accomplished or interesting as "The Totmacher"? Probably not. "The Totmacher" shows that reality often is much more horrific than anything an author can come up with and that it is very possible to create something great with only two human beings and a room. However, like me and many other critics have stated: you have to bring along a little patience and an interest in the subjects rather than the action.

8/10


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