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The Golden Glove

A film about Fritz Honka, a Hamburg serial killer who kills women at the fringes of post-war society.


Serial killer Fritz Honka is wheezing as he tries to stuff a female corpse in a garbage bag. It doesn‘t work. The naked body lies in Honka‘s “living room“ on the bag and Fatih Akin teases a splatter scene. The body is still twitching, it‘s obviously not a dummy, and Honka puts a saw to her throat. Suspense: when does the cut come, how are they getting out of this, how does the trick work once he starts sawing? Honka stops, takes a swig from his bottle, cut, the throat isn‘t in the frame anymore, blood spurts. Fatik Akin doesn‘t quite venture into the most disrespectful area of genre cinema.

DER GOLDENE HANDSCHUH goes beyond the shock effects of splatter cinema that are often fun effects. Beyond the classic aesthetic violence which can still be lofty and humorous is the disgust of the aesthetically excluded. All films that want to evoke physical reactions, be it crying, orgasms, or fear are dubious for aesthetics, but the melodrama remains popular and can become art with a few adjustments, porn and horror have their own festivals and art theories. You will have to wait a bit for a festival of disgusting films, despite all of the transgressions in modern art. DER GOLDENE HANDSCHUH is disgusting. The reaction that disgust creates is vomit and not only do people throw up numerous times on screen, but Akin‘s film evokes the corpse smell in Honka‘s apartment so vividly that I also felt like throwing up.

DER GOLDENE HANDSCHUH isn‘t a thrill ride, it‘s not a film to watch for the rush of excitement. The comforting feeling of escape that follows the horrors of the cinema (and theater and literature) is missing. Escaping disgust is less easy, a relieved laugh and hand holding isn‘t what comes next. Akin‘s film leaves you with a sticky feeling of discomfort that you get in stuffy apartments, train station toilets, and the smoky, dirty bars when you aren‘t completely drunk yet.

DER GOLDENE HANDSCHUH takes you to a place where the stench can‘t be escaped. The most comforting thing about Akin‘s film is that it‘s set in the 70s, but this world has continued of course. The film is based on Heinz Strunk‘s novel about Fritz Honka, who killed numerous women in Hamburg that he met in the “Der goldene Handschuh“ bar. The outcasts of the just booming “economic wonder“ era would meet here. When Hark Bohm, the director of the best Hamburg film of all time NORDSEE IST MORDSEE appears on screen as Dornkaat-Max and takes us to the bar, it‘s a moment of affection for the lost. In “Handschuh“ there‘s only affection when sometimes gives it. A side plot of the story is about a gymnist from a good home who goes into the bar and is fascinated by the atmosphere and regulars and has to pay the price for amusingly slumming it in the end. Akin doesn‘t want to show surreal characters on screen, he demands respect for the people. Especially for Honka‘s victims. Their deaths are brutal degradations and are shown that way too. The public only sees Honka‘s victims as downtrodden, alcoholic prostitutes, old hags, and the bottom of the barrel They have a story here, they look and hit back. Akin doesn‘t just show their undignified death, he also shows the dignity that has been taken from them.

Traditionally, genre cinema doesn‘t have it easy at the Berlinale. DER GOLDENE HANDSCHUH isn‘t going to be a crowd pleaser. Akin‘s film isn‘t a good choice for a first date.

Tom Dorow

Translation: Elinor Lewy


Original title: Der Goldene Handschuh
Deutschland 2019, 110 min
Language: German, Greek
Genre: Horror, History, Biography
Director: Fatih Akin
Author: Fatih Akin
DOP: Rainer Klausmann
Montage: Andrew Bird, Franziska Schmidt-Kärner
Music: F.M. Einheit
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Cast: Jonas Dassler, Margarethe Tiesel, Katja Studt, Tristan Göbel, Uwe Rohde, Hark Bohm, Victoria Trauttmansdorff, Adam Bousdoukos
FSK: 18
Release: 21.02.2019




  • OV Original version
  • OmU Original with German subtitles
  • OmeU Original with English subtitles

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