January 2013: Tanz mit dem Teufel

by January 21, 2013


Der Tanz mit dem Teufel (Dance with the Devil) – Based on a true story

The story starts near Munich, Germany. Ten days before Christmas 1976, Richard Oetker, the 25 year old son of Dr. Oetker, the pudding powder king of Germany, is kidnapped while on his way to the cinema. The kidnapper demands 21 million D-mark (about 15 million USD). Two days later Richard Oetker is released, but badly injured after being trapped for 40 hours in a small wooden box and exposed to a severe electric shock. This treatment left him crippled for the rest of his life.

Georg Kufbach, a police officer, ties a special bond to Richard Oetker. Coincidently, Kufbach had found Oetker upon his release before the police force did. Kufbach was out jogging and found Richard Oetker lying in the front seat of a deserted car in the forest. Kufbach joins the special police unit formed to solve the case, and for the duration of the next two years, he and the rest of the special police unit circle in on the kidnapper, Dieter Cilov.

Cilov is captured and finally brought to trial but denies everything and plays a very active part in his own defense. In spite of the absence of any hard evidence, Cilov is sentenced to the maximum penalty of 15 years in prison, but still denies everything, and the 21 million D-mark in ransom is gone. There is a lot of talk in the German media and in the eye of the general public, Cilov is seen as the poor little David fighting hopelessly against the rich and powerful Goliath.

(Nerd fact: We get a glimpse of an article about the case, and in fact, it is a real article from a magazine published at the time of the actual trial. The real kidnapper’s name is Dieter Zlof which is the name shown in the article – thank God for the pause button).

After 15 years in prison, Cilov is released, and now a second hunt begins. Richard Oetker and Georg Kufbach want Cilov to confess to the crime and they want to find the ransom money or what is left of it. Kufbach follows every single move of Dieter Cilov, and finally Cilov the hunt goes to London where he is caught in the act of retrieving the money which has been secretly transported to England.

If you are familiar with CW’s voice, you know from the start that he plays the part of the kidnapper, Dieter Cilov, and he does it brilliantly. Actually, Christoph Waltz received the Adolf Grimme Prize (the most important German TV-prize) for his portrayal of the arrogant, vain and intelligent Dieter Cilov who is very proud of his intellectual superiority. Cilov is a player – everything seems to be a game to him. He plays calculated on the roulette and he gladly takes advantage of the innocent image formed by the German press: After his release he is invited to a talk show and plays the part of the innocently persecuted victim who spent 15 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit – talking directly to the camera.

In the movie ’Tag der Abrechnung’ (reviewed by Kelley/Sacher January 2011) we were presented with amble insight into the background and history of main character Erwin. The hardship he went through having had a childhood devoid of love and care. Because of this the viewer might develop a slight sympathy for Erwin, despite his actions. Not so with Cilov in ”Dance with the Devil”. Here we are not presented with any mitigating circumstances.

So all I can say is: ”Get that slimy bastard!”

– Helle

Christoph Waltz Fans