DrThis movie begins and ends with a rating. It is based on real events, but the plot, locations and characters are “fantasy”. It may be that production wants to protect itself legally. It also doesn’t matter that the case of Niels Hoegel, the worst serial killer in modern German history, is seen as a judicial scandal. Rather, it is about “a system in which profit maximization comes before patient care and the nursing shortage is actually priced in.” It wasn’t until June 6, 2019, that Hoegel, who worked in hospitals between 1999 and 2005, was sentenced to life in prison after many years investigating the confirmed murders of 85 people. The court determined the special gravity of the crime. Trial observers suspect that only the tip of the iceberg has come to light. It is said that Högel could have committed at least 200 murders. Uncertainty remains for many relatives.
A feature film about the “Nurse of Death”, a case that depicts not only evil but also systemic weaknesses in the hospital’s organization and expansion of the socially discussed and frightening topic of care as if in a magnifying glass, realized by a private broadcaster – don’t goats become a gardener? According to the motto: RTL + (Live Broadcaster Show) plus Niels Högel status plus fantasy equal to a thriller. Or, with a shift in focus, a heroic Superman story, something like this: a squad of upright nurses stand up to the black sheep in their ranks, the desperate battle against the hospital management, who understand cover-up as a job description. David against Goliath, in the middle of the “Angel of Death.”
Feelings of power over life and death
White Silence offers none of this, even if the two sides are sitting in a showdown between the fictitious State Hospital administration and nursing staff, opposite each other at a long meeting table like warriors, of whom there is only one side. Knows the obligations of the healthcare profession and the other in surviving Excel sheets. The film dispenses with heroism and demonization, takes action and reshoots. There are no psychological explanations for the actions of nurse Nils Hoegel, named Rico Weber here. Instead, you see Rikuo’s face as he does his actions. He watched his ecstasy as a resuscitator resuscitated a patient whose recovery was on the verge of death. Kostja Ullmann, at first blush, plays ruthlessly well. The naturally insecure person, the kind who constantly experiences his influence on the environment, experiences the exhilaration of power over life and death. If the resuscitation is successful – in the case of people who have just died, which he himself previously injected to death – the nurse will be rewarded with appreciation by doctors and colleagues. If resuscitation is not successful, Rico Ullmann collapses like a deflated balloon, becomes aggressive and runs away.
Above all, however, “white silence” is about structures. In snapshots, the film alternates between the courtroom and the events leading up to the indictment. The perspective is personal and compassionate. Nurse Clara, played by Julia Jensh, is the real main character of the film. Clara Horne is a new nurse in the cardiology intensive care unit at The State Hospital, but she has worked there for years. Ward’s manager Barbara Heckel (Elena Oleg) has to manage the nurse shortage, and she’s nervous and more willing to turn a blind eye if Rico is suspicious. Even fellow nursing Max (Ruvin Israel) is furious when Clara confronts him with her suspicions. Doesn’t Rico save more patients than anyone else? And who has time to check every drug order plus all the accounting documents? Rico complains of bullying, and the hospital administration praises him with an excellent reference after the events of a stormy night, in which three convalescents with the best prognosis die. In the next clinic, where Clara finally finds allies with moral courage among nurses rather than a society closed off by relationships of dependency.
Niels Hoegel has worked in clinics for more than five years. His seizures sometimes consumed seven times the dose of potentially fatal drugs. After revealing a few cases in a first trial, a second case should clarify in 2019. The course of the trial by the judge was very unusual. Not the perpetrators, but the victims got the attention, almost as in an investigative committee. Here, too, the film “The White Silence” changes the picture. The arbitrator of the feature film is superficial, and focuses on determining the proportion of guilt among hospital staff and management who do not want to remember anything. From an interesting point of view, the direction of Esther Groenenborn (also the writers, along with Sönke Lars Neuwohner) and the realistic and semi-documentary camera work of Christoph Krause could not have made aspects of “Folz Högel” more appropriate. Her renunciation of excitement in favor of enlightenment is evident down to the last detail. The last look falls on white crosses, each representing a victim. The fact that Kostja Ullmann played the killer proves to be a coup. His “Nurse of Death” is an attractive, psychopathic man next door, “one cannot imagine” his perpetrators as a habit. “White Silence” avoids putting interpretation like excitement. It is about individual guilt and structural responsibility, close to the public, and fantastically exaggerated, without simplification. The focus is on people who are at mortal risk in intensive care units, they must already be sure of receiving the best possible care.
white silence Available on RTL+.