Written by: Michael Den Boer on December 4th, 2015
Theatrical Release Date: West Germany, 1973
Director: Ulli Lommel
Writers: Kurt Raab
Cast: Kurt Raab, Jeff Roden, Margit Carstensen, Ingrid Caven, Wolfgang Schenck, Brigitte Mira, Rainer Hauer, Barbara Bertram, Rainer Werner Fassbinder
BluRay released: October 19th, 2015 (UK) / October 20th, 2015 (USA)
Approximate running time: 82 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Rating: 18 (UK), NR (USA)
Sound: LPCM Mono German
BluRay Release: Arrow Video USA
Region Coding: Region A,B / Region 1,2 NTSC
Retail Price: $39.95 (USA) / £17.99 (UK)
Tenderness of the Wolves was directed Ulli Lommel whose other notable films include, Blank Generation and The Boogey Man. Key collaborators on Tenderness of the Wolves include, cinematographer Jürgen Jürges (Ali: Fear Eats the Soul,Christiane F.) and screenwriter Kurt Raab (The Marriage of Maria Braun).
Why try to create monsters, when the world is filled with monsters whose stories are waiting to be told. Trying to make a film that is based upon real life events is not an easy task. And for Tenderness of the Wolves the screenplay was based upon German serial killer Fritz Haarmann who over a six year span killed twenty seven boys and young men. Also in the majority of instances his victims were sexually assaulted and dismembered. Nicknames given to Haarmann include, Butcher of Hanover and Vampire of Hanover. And though this film marked the first directed retelling of Haarmann’s crimes. Fritz Lang’s M was first film inspired by his crimes.
When it comes to adaptions one would be hard pressed to find one that is more frightening, then Tenderness of the Wolves. Where previous Fritz Haarmann adaptions like Fritz Lang’s M kept the carnage off screen, Tenderness of the Wolves goes for the jugular in its depiction of bloodletting and depravity. Needless to say this film leaves nothing to the imagination in regards to its depiction of Fritz Haarmann’s crimes.
Right from the get go this film goes against the norm in its portrayal of a killer. And where other similar themed films puts the main focus on the police and their attempts to catch said killer. This film takes the alternate route by putting the focus squarely on the killer. This also extends to the characters which populate the story at hand as they are all oblivious or worse yet complacent when it comes to the Fritz Haarmann’s crimes.
Without the doubt the most surprising aspect of this film is its cinematography which at times has film Noir quality to it. Another clear influence on this film’s visuals is German expressionism and more specifically filmmaker Fritz Lang. This is most evident it the way that Tenderness of the Wolves pays homage visually to Fritz Lang’s M. Other areas where this film evokes strong emotions in regards to its visuals are the scenes where Fritz Haarmann brings his victims to his apartment. And not to be overlooked is Kurt Raab’s extraordinary performance in the role of Fritz Haarmann. Which is even more impressive when one considers that lack of depth in when it comes to the other characters which populate this film.
Tenderness of the Wolves comes on a 50 GB dual layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. The transfer for this release was sourced from a brand new high definition digital transfer prepared by the Rainer Werner Fassbinder Foundation. There are is a tremendous amount of image clarity, colors reproduction is solid throughout, black levels and shadow details are consistently strong. Also grain looks natural and there are no issues with DNR or compression.
This release comes with one audio option, a LPCM mono mix in German. The audio sounds clear, clean, balanced and robust when it needs too. Also included with this release are removable English subtitles.
Extras for this release include, a stills gallery, a trailer for the film (3 minutes 5 seconds, in German with English subtitles), a featurette titled ‘An Appreciation’ with author Stephen Thrower (41 minutes 14 seconds), three interviews – the first interview titled ‘The Tender Wolf’ with director Ulli Lommel (25 minutes 5 seconds, in English), the second interview titled ‘Photographing Fritz’ with cinematographer Jürgen Jürges (24 minutes 24 seconds, in German with English subtitles) and the third interview titled ‘Haarmann’s Victim Talks’ with actor Rainer Will (16 minutes 7 seconds, in German with English subtitles) and an audio commentary with Ulli Lommel.
Topics discussed in the extra titled ‘An Appreciation’ include, Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s involvement in the making of Tenderness of the Wolves and why he did not direct the film, the cast, how Ulli Lommel has changed as a filmmaker over the years and his rarely seen directorial debut Haytabo, the film’s controversial subject matter and censorship and his gives an insightful analysis for Tenderness of the Wolves.
Topics discussed in the extra titled ‘The Tender Wolf’ include, how he got the opportunity to direct Tenderness of the Wolves, collaborating with cinematographer Jürgen Jürges, Kurt Raab’s screenplay and his performance in the role of Fritz Haarmaan, how many key scenes in the film where improvised, how he prefers to shoot movies from the criminals point of view, Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s initial negative reaction to the film, critical and audience reaction to the film, the cast, locations featured in the film and various other films that he had also worked.
Topics discussed in the extra titled ‘Photographing Fritz’ include, how he got involved in the making of Tenderness of the Wolves, Fritz Lang’s M influence on the look of the film, the visuals and how was able to achieve the look he desired, the cast and his thoughts on their performances and collaborating with Ulli Lommel.
Topics discussed in the extra titled ‘Haarmann’s Victim Talks’ include, how he got cast in the film, how his scenes where not in the original screenplay and where added after he was cast, how he has always felt comfortable in front of the camera, Kurt Raab and demons that he struggled with, collaborating with Rainer Werner Fassbinder and his death scene in Tenderness of the Wolves.
Content wise, though the audio commentary covers several topics which are also covered in the on camera interview with Ulli Lommel. It is still a very informative track that has a wealth of information not covered in the other extras.
Rounding out the extras is a reversible cover art option and a fourteen page booklet with cast & crew information, a new writing on the film titled ‘Murderous Passions’ written by Tony Rayns and information about the transfer. Also included with this release is a DVD that has the same content included on the Blu-Ray included as part of this combo release. Overall Tenderness of the Wolves gets an exceptional release from Arrow Video, highly recommended.