Gladbeck: The Hostage Crisis (2022)

Title:  Gladbeck: The Hostage Crisis

Year:  2022

Genre:   Crime | Documentary | 

Runtime:  91 min 

Director: Volker Heise

Starring: Dieter Degowski, Hans-Jürgen Rösner


7.5/10

In August 1988, two armed bank robbers keep German and Dutch police at bay for 54 hours during a hostage-taking drama that ends badly.

LIKE WATCHING A HOSTAGE CRIME FILM TAKE PLACE

The media has a role in everything, covering both sides of a situation. Communicating in the right way and following the ethical press rules. There’s a line that’s constructed to be followed. In simple terms, there are some things that you do and some things that you don’t do.  When the hostage for 54 hours was covered by the press units in Gladbeck, Germany, in the late 1980s, the press follows everything the outlaws did. Hour by hour, minute by minute. We get two ex-cons who that wiping around their guns during interviews.

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Netflix released a documentary that chronicles all the footage done by the press in June this year. It follows the last twenty hours of footage, covered by the media frenzy in 1988. Not often with documentaries, this German documentary on ninety-one minutes only provides original footage. A relief compared to other documentaries that are forcing other aspects into a tight-driven narrative. The film is directed by Volker Heise with Dieter Degowski and Hans-Jürgen Rösner in the spotlight.

As we have real-time footage, covering this hostage drama we get a dark, immense tone right from the beginning.  As the drama worsen, it never breaks the illusion as it flows nicely and illustrates a tight-directed narrative that works. One can look up the hostage even online and see the outcome, but that’s not the same to experience it in real-time, following it as it evolves. We also get a sense of how the media are working and how the criminals are thinking and planning to do. Early on, Rösner speaks out about who he is and how long he has been in prison.

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The editing is the strongest pursuit of the film. Here we have criminals causing murder and destruction. We get the archive footage to fill in the holes just as we get the determinations and details from the police and journalist following the bus the criminal has been on. Overall, the documentation is superb in covering the dangerous situation. Although we don’t get the beginning of the situation covered or some sort of subtext, it’s clear in the end what the overall deal was. As implied, the criminal duo is both tired, mentally ill and drunk making them a dangerous couple. In the end, it’s like watching a crime film taking place in the real world with tragic consequences unfolding. The intimacy with the outlaw foreseen nothing. The police are absent, only the media are in focus. The director knew how to edit and adjust the footage brilliantly, unlike anything else in this art form. It’s also to date exactly 34 years since this happened.

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