Tuesday, October 30, 2007

It's Jorg Buttgereit Week! Der Todesking (Review)

Der Todesking

Der Todesking (1990)

Directed by Jorg Buttgereit

Jorg Buttgereit week continues. In this installment, we bring you the review of Der Todesing (aka The Death King).

IMDB Plot Vault:

Seven episodes, each taking place on a different day of the week, on the theme of suicide and violent death.

Yup. Suicide and death. That's it in a nutshell.

This is one of the better Jorg movies as it done so cleanly and though filled with violent imagery and sick and twisted scenes of suicide, it's slickly metaphoric about the graphic subject matter it's showing.

As mentioned, each day of the week shows a suicide and death and the precursor or aftermath of each. Let's go through each of them shall we?

Courtesy of Wikipedia.


A man comes home, phones his boss to resign from his job, writes mysterious letters, cleans his apartment and swallows poison in his bathtub. His death is simultaneous with the death of his fish, the only being that was close to him.

Clip from Monday episode:


A man rents a film in a video store, a movie in which Nazi soldiers are torturing a prisoner in a concentration camp, castrating him and painting a swastika on his breast. When the young man's girlfriend comes home, she yells at him until he kills her with a gun. This whole episode is being shown on a TV screen in a room where somebody has been hanged.


A man and a girl meet in a park in the pouring rain. The man tells the girl about his disastrous sex life with his wife which led to him killing her. The girl pulls out a gun to kill him, but the man takes it from her and blows his brains out.


A motorway bridge somewhere in Germany, superimposed by the names, ages and occupations of the people who have jumped from it.


A woman, alone in her apartment, is observing a young, seemingly happy couple in the neighbourhood. She spies on them and finds a chain letter in front of her door, urging her to kill herself. Obviously everybody in the house got the letter. She ignores it, eats chocolates and falls asleep, dreaming of surprising her parents when they make love. The camera shows the young couple, dead on their bed.


A young woman, equipped with a camera and a gun, kills several people in the audience of a rock concert (the front man is played by Die Ärzte-drummer Bela B.) and records it on film, until someone kills her.


A man, alone on his bed, is crying and banging his head over and over violently against the wall until he dies.

The episodes are interspaced with sequences showing a corpse in the cumulative state of decay.

This time around Jorg shows us suicide in all its graphic yet docu-style glory.

Monday is the typical suicide, depressed man nothing to live for. His fish is his only friend.

Tuesday's is the anger suicide, with a twist I didn't see coming. (look for Jorg's other movies in the video store scene)

Wednesday's is the revenge suicide. (total sick slo-mo bullet in the brain)

Thursday is the mass suicide. (crazy theatre style executions)

Friday's is the unknown suicide.

Saturday is the public suicide and Sunday is the crazy suicide.

Got all that?

Buttgereit's facets on death are eerily striking. The scenes are graphic and unrelenting. Jorg shows us death in it's natural state. He does not tell us why these indivuduals have commited suicide or murder. Motives are not known. Der Todesking is about the natural act of commiting suicide. The taboo of suicide is never discused in film. At times its romanticized and made Hollywood-ish in subject mater. Buttgereit's days of the week approach to story telling as a rotting corpse decomposes is metaphoric of time's arrow of death.

Each suicide is an example of reasons unknown, of death in its most purest state and taking the bird eye's perspective.

Der Todesking is a hard movie to watch as compared to hmmm let's say Nekromantik? But it's impact is so mersmerizing that after watching it, you'll feel a little part of you has died.


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