2 user 7 critic

Flammend' Herz (2004)

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Cast overview:
Herbert Hoffmann Herbert Hoffmann ... Himself
Karlmann Richter Karlmann Richter ... Himself
Albert Cornelissen Albert Cornelissen ... Himself


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Eine Freundschaft, die unter die Haut geht (A friendship going under the skin)




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Germany | Switzerland



Release Date:

14 October 2004 (Germany) See more »

Also Known As:

Blue Skin See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs



Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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User Reviews

Tattooing pioneers
17 January 2007 | by Camera-ObscuraSee all my reviews

I don't have a particular interest in the subject of tattooing, but this German-Swiss feature-length documentary about three of the earliest pioneers of this profession in Europe is a fascinating look at the lives of three men, Albert Cornelisse (Rotterdam, 1913), Herbert Hofmann (Freienwalde, 1919) and Karlmann Richter (Kiel, 1913) and their shared passion for the art of tattooing. For a long period, tattoos remained largely within the exclusive domain of sailors, soldiers abroad or criminal circles (for instance the Japanese Yakuza or gang members in the U.S.). Although from the '70s onwards people from other circles started sporting tattoos, they were rarely socially accepted, especially in the workplace. In the last decade however, most taboos surrounding the practice seems to have disappeared and the popularity of tattoos in Western countries exploded. A poll conducted online in the U.S. in 2003 found that 16 % of all adults had at least one tattoo. In the age group 25-29 years old, this was 36 % and is still rising. Considering the ever increasing popularity of the subject, it's a mystery to me why this documentary is still relatively unknown.

This film doesn't really cover the profession itself. Above all, it's a portrait of three men, whose first passion is tattooing. On first appearance, they might look like ordinary elderly men, but beneath their clothes, they are covered in tattoos from head to toe. Herbert Hofmann's tattoo shop in Hamburg St. Pauli, "Germany's first professional tattoo shop", is the place where the lives of these men crossed. They all helped Herbert professionally for substantial periods in their lives, but when he decided to pass over the shop to his younger cousin in 1981 the others felt betrayed and their friendship came to an end. Until the making of this film, when the three men saw each other for the first time in years. I'm not sure if they became on very close terms again, but their encounter after all these years was a very moving sight indeed. Of course, the story behind all this is much more complex. One of them, Karlmann, even secretly left his wife and family in Southern Germany to work alongside Herbert Hofmann in his tattoo shop in Hamburg as late as 1970, because he couldn't live without his greatest passion. He lives with his son now, three of his other children haven't spoken to him since.

In a truly sincere and heart-moving way this film shows the fascinating life stories of these three men who gave up everything for their passion. Try to catch this if you can, it's a very rewarding experience.

Camera Obscura --- 9/10

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