Austin Film Festival Review: Long Live Death

German crime TV show makes the jump to the big screen

German crime thriller Long Live Death kicks off with a throwback: a very Seventies credit sequence, all brutal close-ups and blaring horn sections. But that kitsch disappears the instant the camera shifts to hood-eyed detective Felix Murot (Ulrich Tukur), gazing with broken disinterest at yet another murder scene.

Killer be killed in metaphysical detective thriller Long Live Death, introducing U.S. audiences to the long-running German TV show Tatort

The tonal whipsaw will make sense to German viewers: After all, Long Live Death isn't really a film, per se. It's culled from the long-running police procedural Tatort (Crime Scene), a TV institution that has been must-see entertainment for 45 years.

Es Lebe der Tod is just another episode, but that shouldn't put off first-time viewers. This isn't like diving into the middle of season 10 of CSI, and drowning in old plot lines. Tatort, while it has recurrent characters, is built around stand-alone narratives.

If there's any kinship to CSI, it's that (like that show's creators) director Sebastian Marka is a clear acolyte of Manhunter-era Michael Mann (plus, in Steinemtz's life lived in shadow, a nod to the Tooth Fairy's photophilia). However, unlike the emotionally crippled Will Graham, always on the back foot to the machinations of Hannibal Lecter, Murot and his team have their own devious tricks up their sleeves.

This is a battle of wits rather than horror-tinged crime-fighting, based around the cops' efforts to untangle the killer's motivations. It shifts with near-perfect balance between the chilly elegance of Steinmetz's self-justified madness and Murot's world-weary bureaucratic process. Between the two, they probe intriguing questions of intentions, malice, and even walk into the complicated field of assisted suicide.

Why the producers picked this out of the 1,000 episodes to date as the one to introduce Tatort to American audiences may be a mystery. But its measured mixing of serial killer tropes and Teutonic musings on mercy and self-determination are good reason to crack open older case files.


Long Live Death screens again Wed., Oct. 19, 11pm, Alamo Village.

The Austin Film Festival runs Thu., Oct. 13, through Thu., Oct. 20. See www.austinfilmfest.com for schedule and info. Follow our continuing coverage of the fest at www.austinchronicle/austin-film-festival.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Austin Film Festival
Gary Hart Biopic <i>The Front Runner</i> to Close Austin Film Festival
AFF Announces Second Wave
New films by Yorgos Lanthimos, Asghar Farhadi added to fest

Richard Whittaker, Sept. 12, 2018

AFF to Honor Larry Wilmore
AFF to Honor Larry Wilmore
Festival celebrates long impact of writer and comedian

Richard Whittaker, Aug. 28, 2018

More AFF
Austin Film Festival Review: <i>Ruin Me</i>
AFF Review: Ruin Me
Less meta, more manic in this scary sleepover

Richard Whittaker, Nov. 2, 2017

AFF Interview: <i>Here We Are</i>
Here We Are
Director David Bellarosa on Austin as the velvet coffin

Richard Whittaker, Oct. 27, 2017

More by Richard Whittaker
Ben Wheatley Goes Digging <i>In The Earth</i>
Ben Wheatley Goes Digging In The Earth
Of mushrooms, men, and subterranean superintelligences ..

April 15, 2021

In the Earth
Ben Wheatley's unexpected eco-horror is sinister and hilarious

April 16, 2021

KEYWORDS FOR THIS POST

AFF 2016, Austin Film Festival 2016, Austin Film Festival, AFF, Tatort, Es Lebe Der Tod, Long Live Death

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle