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Gods of the Plague (1970)

Götter der Pest (original title)
A man is released from prison and finds the society on the outside less than appealing. With several women as well as the police on his tail, he sets out to find an old friend.
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Cast overview:
Hanna Schygulla ... Johanna Reiher
Margarethe von Trotta ... Margarethe (as Margarete von Trotta)
Harry Baer ... Franz Walsch (as Harry Bär)
Günther Kaufmann ... Günther, 'Gorilla' (as Günther Kauffmann)
Carla Egerer ... Carla Aulaulu (as Carla Aulaulu)
Ingrid Caven ... Magdalena Fuller
Jan George Jan George ... Polizist
Lilo Pempeit Lilo Pempeit ... Mutter
Marian Seidowsky ... Marian Walsch (as Marian Seydowski)
Micha Cochina Micha Cochina ... Joe
Yaak Karsunke Yaak Karsunke ... Kommissar
Hannes Gromball Hannes Gromball ... Supermarkt-Chef


Franz Walsch, a small-time hood, is released from jail and searches for his old acquaintances. He finds his girlfriend Johanna and visits his mother with his brother Marian. Women are attracted to Franz, though he is a man of few words and remains emotionless throughout his encounters with them. Johanna becomes jealous when Franz goes off with his new lover Margarethe, and the pair connect with his old buddy Günther, known as the Gorilla. After Marian is murdered, a detective searching for the Gorilla and Franz pressures Johanna into divulging what she knows about them. Written by Will Gilbert

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Crime | Drama


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West Germany


German | French | English

Release Date:

24 July 1970 (West Germany) See more »

Also Known As:

Gods of the Plague See more »


Box Office


DEM180,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$11,623, 16 February 2003

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Antiteater-X-Film See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The main character is named Franz Walsch. That's also the name director Rainer Werner Fassbinder often used for his editor credit (including this film). See more »


Margarethe: Why do they call you "the Gorilla"?
Günther: Because I'm big and strong... and everyone has to have a name.
See more »


Referenced in Innocent (2005) See more »


Maskenball der Tiere
Performed by Karl Valentin
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User Reviews

"The punishment begins"
27 February 2010 | by semiotechlab-658-95444See all my reviews

"Gods of the Pest" (1970) with its hermetic title seems to be a clue-movie in the work of director Rainer Werner Fassbinder. Roughly speaking, it tells the story of Franz Walsh who has just been released from the Munich prison in Stammheim. We are not told for how long he was imprisoned, but the camera stands for considerable time on the signboard on which the name of the prison is written. Thus, we do not see either, if the Franz from "Gods of the Pest" is dizzy as is the Franz from Fassbinder's "Berlin Alexanderplatz" (1982), when they get back to liberty. But both Franz' take the tramway, as Piel Jutzi's Franz (and as Herzog's "Stroszek") does, our Franz '(as Piel Jutz's Franz and Stroszek) enters a restaurant, from where the story develops (in Fassbinder's Alexanderplatz Franz is picked up by the Jew Nachum, and it follows the famous Zannowich-story). Franz Walsch - a Fassbinder amalgamate from the Berlin Alexanderplatz-Franz Biberkopf and the American film director Raoul Walsh - now bears much more common features than only sharing his first name with the Alexanderplatz-Franz. However, when asked for his passport in the hotels, Franz Walsch tells the receptionist that his name is Franz Biberkopf. Both Franz'are former prison-inmates for whom there is no future now in the outside world. They have no other chance than to following up their former life that they had left before having been arrested. However, in the beginning, both Franz Walsch and Franz Biberkopf promise that they well stay honest. In the case of Franz Walsch, he stands between his old and the new girlfriend. The old one loves him too much and gets dangerous, the new one raises a credit, and both are astonished how quickly the money is used up. While Franz Biberkopf in the Alexanderplatz gets back to be a pimp, Franz Walsch and his former colleagues plan a coup ... . Despite being slightly different, one can say that "Gods of the plague" can be seen as Fassbinder's first finger-exercise towards filming Döblin's novel (which he would do only 9 years after the present movie). Meanwhile, Fassbinder himself appears as Franz Biberkopf in "The American Soldier", he hides himself behind the cutter of his movies "Franz Walsch", and there is hardly any Fassbinder film where there is no Franz or no Biberkopf: variations of the same topic: Franz Biberkopf from Alexanderplatz has to exercise himself in many characters, in many places and in many societies and times before he will find himself, almost at the end end of Fassbinder's life, in his ultimate form.

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