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Angels of Iron (1981)

Engel aus Eisen (original title)
BERLIN, 1948. During the few days of the blockade, a teenager, a man, a young woman, constitute a gang. They profit from the fear, the black market, the disorder, and commit a considerable number of thefts.


Thomas Brasch


Thomas Brasch
2 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Hilmar Thate ... Gustav Völpel
Katharina Thalbach ... Lisa Gabler
Ulrich Wesselmann Ulrich Wesselmann ... Gladow (as Ullrich Wesselmann)
Karin Baal ... Frau Luzie Gladow
Ilse Pagé ... Frau Gerti Völpel
Peter Brombacher Peter Brombacher ... Schäfer
Klaus Pohl Klaus Pohl ... Gabler
Hanns Zischler ... Ridzinski (as Hans Zischler)
Horst Laube Horst Laube ... Herr Gladow
Jürgen Flimm Jürgen Flimm ... Westkommissar
Kurt Raab ... Chauffeur
Michael Danisch Michael Danisch
Karl-Heinz Grewe Karl-Heinz Grewe ... (as Karl Heinz Grewe)
Urs Hefti Urs Hefti
Hermann Killmeyer Hermann Killmeyer


BERLIN, 1948. During the few days of the blockade, a teenager, a man, a young woman, constitute a gang. They profit from the fear, the black market, the disorder, and commit a considerable number of thefts.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Crime | Drama | History | War


Did You Know?


BERLIN, 1948. During the few days of the blockade, a teenager, a mature man, a young woman, constitute a gang. They profit from the fear, the black market, the disorder, the fragmentation of the administration and the archives, the deliquescent of the State, and commit a considerable number of thefts. Neither historical nor police, the film is the story of a wild tragedy whose protagonists and choristers seem to wear masks that reproduce their features, seized and fixed in the violence of expectation and fear. Thomas Brasch has, he said, turned the camera on the actors the time needed to disappear any trace of play. When the blockade is raised, when the din ceases, the gang, which celebrates the success of a big blow, is taken. The choir holds out its fist towards the prisoners, saying "Berlin, it's not Chicago" ... Old and heavy faces, grumbling painfully, as if the words were hiding others, which have never been shouted at the time so close to Nazi shame. "Whether or not they are aware of it," says Thomas Brasch, "all wear the despair of their story stuck to the skin, but the film does not reconstruct the past, it is a look ahead." I describe a situation of availability that could open on all the roads, a kind of zero hour, the five minutes before midnight during which we remember ... Europe is living this hour zero.I do not know what it will lead to, the war can be, or, worse, nothingness, the wind that falls, perhaps a renewal. "This situation that I describe can be compared to what happens when two people leave each other: we go to a cafe, we sit down, so we understand that we are alone." One moment, everything would be possible again, but It's a quick moment, and we're going somewhere else.This moment, this minute of truth that breaks out when we sit, alone, that's what interests me.I can not speak as a politician, and I can only speak about Germany, where after so many years devoted to erasing crimes, furnishing the memory of foreign cultures, it is time to recognize that our ugliness and our beauties have their roots in our own history. Colette Godard, Le Monde, 14 may 1981 See more »

User Reviews

This movie is a "must-see-at-least-twice"
4 December 2001 | by sleepsevSee all my reviews

The opening scene of this movie can tell you how the whole film will be like: strange, hypnotic, visually stunning, sometimes disturbing, and powerful. This film is about gangsters in Berlin after WWII. It is mesmerizing, and makes me want to see it again and again after it ends. Though I cannot quite understand the whole story of this movie after viewing it for only one time, its atmosphere really entrances me. The atmosphere is strange and has something undescribable about it, something which is unfamiliar and really makes this movie stand out from other movies. And I think its atmosphere corresponds very well with the mental state of the characters. Besides its superb visual quality, the use of plane noises in this movie is quite interesting and very effective. Moreover, there is a sense of discontinuity running throughout the whole film. It seems like some scenes which might have been important to other mainstream films are deemed unnecessary here, and they are indeed unnecessary. To make a movie full of discontinuities might not be difficult, but in this movie, the feeling of discontinuity seems to fit in very well, seems very appropriate, seems so right, and I think to make a movie like this requires a real great talent. The feeling of discontinuity strongly enhances that undescribable atmosphere and makes the movie much more exciting to watch. Furthermore, it is worth noticing that not only some scenes are appropriately left out, but something which would normally have been the focus of the scene is sometimes curiously missing.

As for the performance, Katharina Thalbach has a suitable and memorable role here. The actor who plays Gladow also gives a stunning performance. I have heard that the film is based on a true story, but I think its style, feelings, and power are unique, and quite different from other movies based on a true story. In my opinion, this movie is not only a `must-see', but a `must-see-at-least-twice.'

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West Germany



Release Date:

23 April 1981 (West Germany) See more »

Also Known As:

Angels of Iron See more »

Filming Locations:

Berlin, Germany

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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