• Friss oder stirb (2018) - Hoping for change while being stuck in stereotypes - 3/10 (31/12/18)

    Tatort: Friss oder stirb (2018)

    The Germanophone Tatort television series has been around for five decades and far over one thousand episodes have been produced. Despite weird recent experiments including topics like vampirism and psychedelic drug-infused dream sequences, the television series has been repeating itself for years and it might be time to finally pull the plug with its fiftieth anniversary. Many people keep watching the series because there is a serious lack of alternatives but that doesn't justify its dreadful longevity. Such a popular television series also represents a country and its people to a certain degree and what we can see are depressed characters in grey settings uttering repetitive powerless social criticism. It's hard to empathise with anything here and the time for a positive change might be overdue now.

    Let's start on a positive note regarding this particular German-Swiss episode. Some of the landscapes around Lucerne look gorgeous. There are a few brief action sequences that interrupt the vapid sequences of shallow dialogues. The ending is ambiguous as it leaves some questions unanswered which surprisingly challenges the viewer but probably frustrates most of them that are used to digest cold hard facts.

    Everything else is as stereotypical as in most episodes of this tired old television series. The settings are cold, grey and monotonous from start to finish. The characters look stiff and often speak, think and walk in slow motion. The camera work is equally conservative and frozen.

    The plot is stunningly shallow and includes random scenes like a houseowner sharing a beer with a perpetrator whom he has just tried to kill, a stiff housewife suddenly killing her husband right after he got randomly accused of having impregnated another woman and a teenage girl needlessly confessing to a crime in front of a random police officer and an angry perpetrator with an entire special task force listening via modern technology.

    Some scenes from the episode could unintentionally be taken from old-fahsioned slapstick comedy movies, such as the fighting perpetrator and police officer accidentally opening a door that gives the female police officer a welcome chance to escape and get help, the perpetrator preparing a pizza in front of his victims just to forget it burning in the oven or the houseowner angrily shooting at the prepetrator just to conveniently run out of bullets when they finally stand face to face.

    The episode also has the usual moralizing tone which can already be found in the title that tells us that rich people believe they can do whatever they like. Needless to say that thousand of movies have had the same moralizing topic. It's particulalry sarcastic coming from a team of wealthy producers financed by taxpayers who are in return fed with shallow stereotypes over and over again.

    It's ironic that the interesting landscapes, brief action sequences and partially open ending still make these ninety minutes of boredom one of the better Tatort episodes in recent memory. If you ever wondered why German movies were revolutionary in the twenties and thirties of the last century and at least still influential in the sixties and seventies but have fallen behind in past years, watching this vapid episode will give you some honest answers because everything here is stiff, cold and artificial. If this is the best German television or cinema can do, then it reveals a lot about an overtly serious society that wishes to inspire change but is still stuck in tired old repetitive stereotypes. This might sound like a contradiction and it is which tells us a lot about the current state of affairs in and around Germany. If you were a foreigner and interested in discovering the essence of contemporary German culture, this episode would at least be an unintentionally revealing social science study of a struggling society in a country torn between its conservative past and confused by a rapidly changing world around it. 

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