February 2012: Der Tourist

by February 1, 2012

 

As one of the few known films where Christoph Waltz has a sex scene, this film has become one of the favorites among the lady fans.  However, Der Tourist is a silly romp through a serial killer’s mind and bedroom.  The women are blonde with large chests, the hero cop is a typical ‘tall dark and handsome’ type, and it’s little wonder the version I have of this film was recorded from German late-night tv (complete with the amusing adverts for adult phone chat lines).  The question that concerns us, though, is how does the film hold up as a Christoph Waltz movie?

Our story begins at what appears to be the end.  Der Tourist, the murderer, (Christoph Waltz) is in London, looking for his next victim.  While enjoying a day at Hyde Park, he comes upon a pretty young thing sitting by the Serpentine and one thing leads to another, which sees her end up naked, in a rowboat, strangled with some cheese wire.  A postcard left for the cops leaves no doubt as to the identity of the murderer: DER TOURIST!  Thus, the modus operandi of our villain is clear:  He goes on holiday, murders people, and leaves a postcard as a calling card, thus spreading notoriety and terror.  When the British cops appear, for some reason, despite this being London, they are speaking perfect German! Who knew that was a requirement of the Metropolitan Police Force in those days?  Also on the scene is a top cop from Germany who is obviously the only one capable of tracking Der Tourist down.   One thing leads to another and finally, after this particular murder, they track Der Tourist down to his hovel in London where he makes an exit on the fire escape ladder.  A bit of a chase later, and Der Tourist falls to his death, landing face down on the ground.

Or did he?  Protocol would probably require the police to have him sent to hospital, and if still alive, kept in custody.  However, obviously Top Cop thought Der Tourist was not worth such formalities, and left him for the rats, which is why the next time we see Der Tourist it is at his place of work in Germany, planning his next “vacation.” He is interrupted by a work colleague, a pretty young barbie-doll type who appears to have a “Vacancy” sign between her ears where her brain might have been.   She makes a ham-handed attempt to seduce him which doesn’t go very well, but he lets her live (for now!).  Der Tourist is off to Vienna, where there are many other pretty necks of stupid women to strangle.

He has a jolly time in Vienna,  hunting, gathering, and killing his prey.  Purely by coincidence, Top Cop is also in Vienna with his lady wife, where they took a holiday to relax after his all-consuming pursuit of Der Tourist.  Top Cop’s wife meets up with Der Tourist, and it’s murderous lust at first sight.  The fly in the ointment, however, is that Der Tourist’s work colleague found out he was going to Vienna and took her own little trip there to stalk and follow him in the hopes that he’d love her.  Juggling all these women and all these potential murder victims nearly proves too much for poor Der Tourist, and they have to go.  This, however, puts him on the grid of Top Cop, who pursues him down like a bloodhound (while ignoring his lady wife who is spending an increasing amount of time with Der Tourist.)  Eventually Der Tourist makes a move on her and gets shut down, and a long chase between him and Top Cop end up with an altogether ridiculous splash through some drainage reservoir where hero and villain grapple each other in a rather inelegant and overdrawn episode of fisticuffs at dawn.  By more luck than skill, Top Cop lands the crippling blow and it is finally curtains for poor Der Tourist.

While watching some of Waltz’s back catalogue, it is obvious that he did not take the roles seriously and played them a bit ‘tongue in cheek’.  Der Tourist is a film that could have truly benefited from that take on it.  Instead, it is an attempt at a super-serious erotic thriller that in reality is ridiculous, not very thrilling, and about as erotic as the phone chat lines that are advertised during the commercial breaks in the recording.  The film is entirely in German (including those remarkable German speaking British bobbies!) however I don’t miss the English translations, as it’s simple enough to guess what is being said, and more fun to make up ones’ own script.  In no way whatsoever would this rank with Waltz’s best work, or even his medium-quality productions.  His serious portrayal does not suit the camp of Der Tourist (who takes his lady-strangling wire with him in a briefcase along with an asthma inhaler and keeps cut-outs of newspaper articles about his crimes).  Indeed, this film is only talked about due to the sex scene (which is too short, with no nudity, and ends abruptly.)  In order to get there, one has to endure the rutting 85 position sex scenes of Top Cop and his lady wife, which are a gruesome twosome, and aren’t worth suffering through.

If you’re really that desperate to see a Waltz sex scene, or want to enjoy a fairly easy to comprehend yet stupidly transparent murder story, watch Der Tourist.   If for no other reason, the commercials are hysterical.

~Sacher

Christoph Waltz Fans