Your flagellar. Hostage Drama: Volker Hayes Netflix Movie

JFor your literature, this is not just the name of an unexciting town in the northern Ruhr region. Since 1988, it has also become synonymous with one of the most spectacular crimes in the history of the Federal Republic, which began with a bank robbery and kidnapping, moved across the country and ended 54 hours later on the motorway near Bad Honnef. Three people were killed, two of whom were shot by hostage-takers Rösner and Degowski. The police did not cut a good figure, the media made a worse impression: television and print journalists filmed and interviewed the perpetrators, as if on a company outing, or acted as intermediaries.

Peter Courte

Editor at the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sunday newspaper in Berlin.

It was the first time an audience of millions could watch a major crime live. Public broadcasters and young private broadcasters not only competed for the biggest scoop and the hottest photos. They themselves have become “the driving element,” as Volker Hayes said in an interview about his Netflix production “Gladbeck. The Hostage Drama.”

Raw and raw as possible

Of course, the film Heise is not the first in this topic. The events, such as the continuing shock to the industry, have been treated many times, not only in the usual documentary form; Also as a docudrama (“Race with Death”, RTL 1998), as a sort of fictional attempt to beat it (“Ein Große Ding”, Arte/ZDF 1999), as a subtle re-enactment (“Gladbeck”, ARD 2018) and still a milestone, as a farce Bloody by Christoph Schlingenev under the powerful title “Terror 2000 – Intensive Care Unit Germany” in 1992.

“This film consists exclusively of original recordings,” Hayes says at the outset. He wanted to present the material “as rough and rough as possible”, without interviewing eyewitnesses and the usual additions – a series of motion pictures, still images, faded newspaper pages, as well as very sober music. Heise has experience with this type of collage, as he recently demonstrated admirably in his documentary story “Berlin 1945 – Diary of a Big City” (2020). It’s about the show. Not to say.

Also in Gladbeck’s movie, the narration is perfectly absorbed into the montage. Grouping, material arrangement, selection, and timing provide the narrative form. At the same time, it is important not to reproduce these non-reflective images, the camaraderie and lack of distance of those who made them and those who commissioned and treated them. Hayes confidently solves this: he leaves the images behind and then disavows the circumstances of their creation.

But even though everything you see is in footage, there is a strange effect when you look at it. One can speak of “reflections”. It’s as if you’re watching a formally advanced crime movie that plays with imperfection, deliberately using different visual formats and clear lines of dialogue—”I’m having sex with my life, I’m a criminal by nature,” says gangster Rosner. Like watching a fictitious movie, a feature film masquerading as a docu-drama.

This was definitely not Hayes’ intent. However, it should not be a coincidence that in the 1980s, after novels such as “Seven Seconds” or “White Noise” by Don DeLillo, “Imagination of Reality” became an engaging formula of which Gladbeck was an excellent example. This effect can provide media historians with an interesting discovery: the more closely you look at images of reality, the more fantastically they look back. This is not a historical law, but an empirical observation that can also be made from real-time mediated events such as the OJ Simpson persecution in 1994.

Pictorial and textual media keep coming back to Gladbeck, even in times of social media, because it is rarely concrete how media representation wants to shape its subject matter, and how the medium becomes an agent.

Coming to Netflix on June 8th.

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