Gladbeck: Hostage Drama | somersault

Telling the story seems pointless, and most of them know it, especially the older ones. We shouldn’t tell all the little ones too much, after all, the allure of this new movie is also about experiencing what happened for the first time. Others, the older ones, will nod their heads when they see the images one has known from then on. The material filmed and photographed from a hundred or so cameras has an almost iconic effect. Two cheerful men in undershirts, leather jackets and rifles. Car, bus, walk. Two and up to thirty hostages. And finally conversations with journalists, shocking testimonies of a work ethic that spiraled out of control.

Volker Hayes is dedicated to Gladbeck, and admittedly, he’s not the first. There are countless documentaries on this topic, feature films and ratings. So what can this post add? Well, it’s the perspective that really stands out in this case. Because the film, as indicated at the beginning, consists only of the original recordings and archive materials of those days. This includes television reports, radio broadcasts, and the almost uncontrollable amount of video material recorded by an army of reporters. In the past, they belonged, like the police, to the unfortunate figures of history. Their methods were reprimanded, and rightly so. Without respect or decency, they carried their lenses, microphones and ultimately their contempt for perpetrators and victims in their faces. The media became an ally of the perpetrators, a conclusion that was not drawn until it was too late, believing and promising to strive for improvement. The police have also been heavily criticized for their utter incompetence, which seems to be explained by dumping them, but which cannot be justified. Your point of view should be fully stated in the movie Heise. One knows nothing about the plans and methods of the police, nothing about the escape from responsibility that took place behind the scenes. This circumstance is due to the perspective of the film, the television images that were delivered to all homes for three days.

Since the film does not contain comments, interviews or other criteria of the documentary type, i.e. only performances without judgment, Heise forces his audience to put those who sat in front of the screens at the time. Because the story is definitely exciting, it sounds like the story of a feature film. We ourselves become voyeurs and wince when the horror of a true crime is revealed. The film fits so well with the zeitgeist that it shows a great enthusiasm among many for the “true crime” genre. More than ever, they, the people, are fascinated by true crimes, and pursue them like reporters chasing down your gladiator hostage takers.

It would be simplistic to say that the mistakes made by the media back then no longer happen today. On the contrary, Gladbeck 2.0 will be much worse in terms of reception. Contrary to what happened in 1988, now everyone has a smartphone, so it is not only journalists who are equipped with cameras and microphones. Today the kidnappers are internet stars, Tik Tok and Instagram will be full of them. Police work will be much more difficult, and the flood of images will never end. Greed for the best picture, the craziest moment, didn’t stop. More importantly today to stand out from the tides, how far some people might go is uncertain. In a scenario where criminals willingly talk to the cameras, laugh and joke with them, serve coffee and fail to recognize the danger they pose, all doors seem open to the numbered people. Insanity claimed three lives in 1988, but not the hostage takers. Two of the dead were young people, victims of the complete failure of society, state power and the media. They might still have survived if all cases were done professionally.

Volker Hayes set himself the task of retelling Gladbeck’s history using only the original recordings. The fact that he was able to do so thanks to adequate image and sound material is significant and shows that the film would not exist today if people’s thirst for a sense of human dignity had ceased during these three days.

Gladbeck: The Hostage Crisis | Documentary by Volker Hayes | Introduction from the movie Five

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