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Messer im Kopf 1978
Description: One night when seeking his estranged wife, Hoffmann goes to the youth center where she works. The police are there rounding up radicals who frequent the center - Hoffmann runs into the building and ends up being shot in the head. He awakens with brain trauma, partially paralyzed and unable to speak. The police accuse him of stabbing an officer; the radicals herald him as an innocent victim of police brutality. During his slow recovery at the hospital, Hoffmann gotta piece together his life and struggle to remember the happenings of that night.
Released: 17 Nov 1978 Director: Reinhard Hauff Writers: Reinhard Hauff, Peter Schneider Actors: Bruno Ganz, Angela Winkler, Hans Christian Blech, Heinz Hoenig Genres: Drama
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Messer im Kopf Reviews:

Bruno Ganz is astonishing as a boy recovering from traumatic brain injury. His performance is more realistic than most cinematic depictions of brain injury (aside from the concept that brain surgery should have been performed without shaving his head!), which is in itself remarkable; the many methods in which there is a knife in his head, literally and figuratively and symbolically, add layers to an already brilliant performance.Angela Winkler also shines in her complex and troubled relationship to the injured man.It's been years since I saw this film, and yet it stays with me. I really wish to see it again. I have to tell I think it's a true shame that it was not more widely seen initially, and that it never seems to create it back to the revival houses...


According to reports at the time, the Federal Republic of Germany (or "West Germany," as it was known then,) became somewhat of a police state in the mid-70's.The embarrassing, heavy blunder of the Munich '72 Olympics segued into the Baader-Meinhoff, and at some mission the German government started using police strategies that had more to do with Orwellian practices than civil rights. This film reflects that, and it does so while showing the arduous process experienced by its protagonist (admirably played by Bruno Ganz,) who gotta literally rewire his brain after the forces of the State almost slay him by mistake and then test to blame him in order to cover things up.There gotta have been a measure of freedom left in W. Germany for this film to have come out somehow. Is Ganz's recovery (from vegetable back to human being after having had his memory wiped out) an allegory of Germany itself (from Nazism to freedom and back to a police state again)? Go figure. All I know is that is film left an indelible impression in my mind, which is telling a lot in an era when German cinematography was coming up with a gem each another month.Seek it out.


This film is both serious and humorous and it's worth seeing alone for the magnificent acting of Bruno Ganz. He's just so watchable and has an nice method to deliver his lines. It also has one of the most scary and brilliant endings I know. It makes the film continue in your head after the credits roll.



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