As life slows down on a hot summer's day in 1988, an armed bank robbery goes awry. While fleeing from the police, the two gangsters take an entire busload hostage. The ensuing manhunt, however, turns into a disaster. The police make fools of themselves with their amateurish operations and, above all, are obstructed by the nation's media who swoop down on the events in their rat race for the juiciest pictures and live interviews with the kidnappers. As Rösner, the driving force of the duo, orchestrates their 54 hours of fame in cold blood, his accomplice Degowski derives sinister pleasure from manipulating the media. But Degowski is also unpredictable and violent. When he loses his nerve and kills a teenage passenger in the bus, the two men choose two young women as their hostages while leaping into another getaway vehicle. Thus begins an odyssey that goes completely out of control.Written by
Based on the true story that shocked a nation in the summer of 1988. See more »
The license plate on the vehicle provided by the Dutch police uses the authentic registration (HR-20-TN), but the font and spacing don't match those used for Dutch license plates in 1988. See more »
The opening titles and the closing credits listed the actors but none of them had a corresponding character name - even for the major characters. See more »
54 Hours: The Gladbeck Hostage Crisis
This two-part drama tells the tale of the 'Gladbeck hostage crisis'; a shocking event which began on 16 August, 1988, with two gunmen attempting to rob a bank in the German town of Gladbeck. Those inside are taken hostage as the police surround the building. Wishing to avoid any violence the police allow them to leave with two hostages, they then pick up one of the gunmen's girlfriend. As they are in a car fitted with a tracker the police follow. As soon as the news of the event gets out the media descend on the story. The action then moves to Bremen where the kidnappers abandon their car and hijack a bus. As they wait for police negotiators they give interviews to the press who are free to film everything. The police response is very confused with different forces claiming overall command and the men on the ground being left waiting for orders.
This drama really is quite shocking; if it weren't based on real events it would be impossible to believe. The competence of the senior officers is clearly lacking, as an example they don't even have an ambulance on standby. If anything the media response is even more shocking; they surround the hijackers, interview them, obstruct the police and even board the bus to take photographs.
As a piece of entertainment this was very effective. It was filmed in a way that felt very real and the actors gave natural performances. Knowing it was based on real events, but not knowing details before watching, made it very tense at times as we can't work out the 'designated survivors' as one might in a fictional thriller. There are of course some fictional elements as the creators give us there idea of what happened behind the scenes; these scenes were necessary to give more depth to characters and explain some of the things that were happening. Overall I'd definitely recommend this drama.
These comments are based on watching in German with English subtitles.
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