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Der Unhold (1996)

Frenchman Abel Tiffauges likes children, and wants to protect them against the grown-ups. Falsely suspected as child molester, he's recruited as a soldier in the 2nd World War, but very ... See full summary »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
John Malkovich ... Abel Tiffauges
Armin Mueller-Stahl ... Count von Kaltenborn
Gottfried John ... Chief Forester
Marianne Sägebrecht ... Frau Netta
Volker Spengler ... Fieldmarshall Göring
Heino Ferch ... SS-Officer Raufeisen
Dieter Laser ... Professor Blättchen
Agnès Soral ... Rachel
Sasha Hanau Sasha Hanau ... Martine
Luc Florian Luc Florian ... Prisoner of War
Laurent Spielvogel Laurent Spielvogel ... Prisoner of War
Marc Duret ... Prisoner of War
Philippe Sturbelle Philippe Sturbelle ... Prisoner of War
Vernon Dobtcheff ... Lawyer
Jacques Ciron Jacques Ciron ... State Attorney
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Storyline

Frenchman Abel Tiffauges likes children, and wants to protect them against the grown-ups. Falsely suspected as child molester, he's recruited as a soldier in the 2nd World War, but very soon he is taken prisoner of war. After shortly serving in Goerings hunting lodge, he becomes the dogsbody in Kaltenborn Castle, an elite training camp for German boys. Completely happy to take care of these children, he becomes a servant of Nazism, catching boys from the area as supplies for the camp. Written by Frank Wallner <wallnerf@informatik.tu-muenchen.de>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Germany | France | UK

Language:

English | German | French

Release Date:

12 September 1996 (Germany) See more »

Also Known As:

Le roi des aulnes See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$3,500, 13 December 1998, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$49,166, 5 September 1999
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Stereo

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Goofs

Prior to the school fire, a caption says "Paris 1925". Upon his arrest as an adult, Abel, through his narration, remembers the fire as having happened "twenty years ago". This would place his adult scenes in 1945, but when he joins the French army after his arrest it is before the German occupation of Paris which would place his arrest in 1940. However, Abel is slow-witted and possibly does not have an accurate sense of time. See more »

Quotes

Prof. Blaettchen: Brightness is not a characteristic of the German race. We don't want brightness! People say, "Oh, so-and-so is so bright, he has such a clear mind!" No. We mistrust this brightness, this clarity. Let the new African races cultivate brightness. Our sources are in darkness. That is what drives us to unparalleled creativity.
See more »

Connections

Featured in Hollywood Profile: John Malkovich (1998) See more »

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User Reviews

Treason in the Name of Child Protection
5 November 2001 | by lawprofSee all my reviews

Abel is not simply slow-witted, he is morally shortchanged and has little if any ability to recognize even the reality much less the depth of his willing collaboration with the Germans. Abel is a survivor and while his concern for the children being trained as proto-Nazis in an ancient castle is real, so is his ruthlessness in collecting them by force for his German superiors with the aid of snarling Dobermans.

The film abounds in caricatures beginning with an outdoor picnic by complacent, indeed moronic, French officers who fail to even remotely perceive the danger of the onrushing Wehrmacht. Reichsmarshall Goring is portrayed as a grinning fool except when he approaches the state of barking madness. This is a legitimate dramatic device but the real Goring, cured before World War II of doctor-induced morphine addiction, was more complex and, in that sense, more interesting (decades ago I took a psychology course with Dr. Gilbert, who examined Goring at Nuremberg and wrote a book about the experience which is still available in second-hand bookshops. HIS Goring was chilling, no one to laugh at.).

The film is most effective when it eerily recreates what must have been the almost erotic attraction of nighttime rallies with flags, bunting, torches and the steady beat of martial music. That little boys were inculcated with the madness of Nazism through these rituals is powerfully shown here.

It was hard for me to care about Abel one way or the other but the character is well-acted as are the other main roles.


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