EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?
|KNIFE IN THE HEAD (MESSER IM KOPF) (director: Reinhard Huff; screenwriter: Peter Schneider; cinematographer: Frank Bruhne; editor: Peter Przygodda; music: Irmin Schmidt; cast: Bruno Ganz (Hoffmann), Angela Winkler (Ann), Hans Christian Blech (Anleitner), Heinz Hoenig (Volker), Hans Brenner (Scholz), Udo Samel (Schurig), Eike Gallwitz (Dr. Groeske), Carla Egerer (Nurse Angelika), Heinz Hurlander (Police); Runtime: 108; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Wolf-Dietrich Brücker; New Yorker Video; 1978-Germany-in German with English subtitles)|
starts out as a political thriller, but turns ugly into a psychodrama."
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
It starts out as a political
thriller, but turns ugly into a psychodrama. After going to see his estranged wife, Ann (Angela Winkler), at a left-wing youth center, there's a police raid and the
bio-geneticist Hoffmann (Bruno Ganz) is shot in the head.
Hoffmann is hospitalized, where he's paralyzed, his speech is impaired
and he suffers from memory loss. Through sheer will power and good
medical treatment he becomes well enough to leave the hospital, but can
no longer pursue his brilliant science career.
The corrupt cops make up a
story that the apolitical Hoffmann came after them with a knife and
smear him in the press as a terrorist, even though he has no history as
one. His estranged wife Ann is involved with one of the dissidents,
Volker (Heinz Hoenig),
who hang out at the youth center. The radicals try to use this incident
to attack the police as pigs who deserve to be killed, as they try to
manipulate Hoffmann to become an activist against police brutality. The
radicals' cunning lawyer Anleitner
Blech) tries to run interference
for Hoffmann from both sides, and tries to keep him in the clinic until
he gets better. But Hoffmann acquires a new personality, as he must
start over without much memory and becomes obsessed with uncovering the
truth about his shooting. This
leads to nasty confrontations with the fascist-like police, the
unpleasant Volker, his mixed-up estranged wife and finally with the
fearful Nazi-like cop, Schurig (Udo Samel), whose quick trigger made
the scientist forever an insignificant person because of his severe
Huff ("The Main Actor"/"Slow Attack") wants to warn us that even in modern West
Germany it's possible to have a police state if society isn't vigilant.
Writer Peter Schneider has
an interesting premise but is unable to bring depth to either his
characters or the story, and by offering an ambiguous ending he
seemingly is unsure of how he wants the mystery story to end and lets
the viewer instead fill in the blanks. In the end, it's only mildly intriguing, as
the wheels start coming off because of poor structuring (things look
awkward and the dialogue is stilted) and that it's presented in a cold
and clinical manner when its passionate dramatization demanded to be
told in a passionate manner.
REVIEWED ON 6/5/2010 GRADE: B
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
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