Backdraft - men who go through fire

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German title Backdraft - men who go through fire
Original title Backdraft
Country of production United States
original language English
Publishing year 1991
length 131 minutes
Age rating FSK 12 (re-cut 16)
Director Ron Howard
script Gregory Widen
production Richard Barton Lewis ,
John Watson ,
Pen Densham
music Hans Zimmer
camera Mikael Salomon
cut Daniel P. Hanley ,
Mike Hill

Backdraft - Men Who Go Through Fire (Original Title: Backdraft ) is an American feature film from 1991 . The director was Ron Howard and the script was written by Gregory Widen . The main roles were played by Kurt Russell , William Baldwin and Robert De Niro .


The Irish-born brothers Stephen McCaffrey and Brian McCaffrey are firefighters in Chicago . Her father was also a firefighter and died while doing his job.

A huge explosion occurs in a residential building in the city, in which a man is killed. The fire investigators Rimgale investigating the case. Due to the savings measures implemented by the local politician Swayzak in the fire brigade, however, he is only making slow progress with the investigations.

After his training, Brian is transferred to his unit at the instigation of his brother. Brian is not very enthusiastic about it. His first mission is a major fire and he acts unauthorized during this time, putting his colleagues at risk. His brother Stephen, responsible for the unit, reproaches him for this. Brian is settling in better and better, but his brother is still making life difficult for him. During an operation, Brian is reluctant to go into the flames. He doubts himself and no longer knows if this is the right job for him. He's talking to his ex-girlfriend Jennifer, who now works for Swayzak in the town hall. He gets the job with the fire investigators, which he rejected shortly before.

Brian begins his new job with the fire investigators under the head of Rimgale. You visit a pyromaniac in prison to attend a parole board meeting. When the latter is about to parole him, Rimgale intervenes and convinces the committee that the man is dangerous. He then remains in custody.

Another explosion occurs in a theater. Again a man is killed in the process. Brian and Rimgale begin the investigation, whereby the latter finds the source of the fire. It turns out that there was a so-called flue gas explosion ( backdraft ). He suspects arson. During the autopsy of the corpses, you will find further evidence of arson. You discover the fire accelerators used . It is a mixture of magnesium and a relatively rare substance. After a few experiments it is finally clear that it is arson. However, due to the approach, it does not seem to have been a typical pyromaniac, but someone who hates fire.

If Stephen's unit is deployed, there is another backdraft . Brian's friend is seriously injured by the academy. Another body is found in the apartment. Stephen blames himself for the accident because he was responsible for the injured person. The colleagues also doubt Stephen's management style.

The investigation is making slow progress. There does not seem to be any similarity between the victims. Swayzak puts more and more pressure on. He demands clarification as soon as possible. In the course of the further investigation it turns out that Swayzak was in business contact with all three victims.

Meanwhile, Stephen is still blaming himself and seeking solace from his ex-wife. After a night together, she makes Stephen realize that she can no longer be with him.

Jennifer obtains Brian's papers from her boss showing that he and the three dead together falsified household numbers to make savings for the fire department. This allows them to make a lot of money through the resulting real estate deals. Rimgale and Brian decide to pay Swayzak a visit. However, he doesn't seem to be at home. But they notice gas in the apartment. In the house are the unconscious Swayzak and an arsonist. He prepared the apartment just like the previous three. When Brian tries to stop him, a fight breaks out. The arsonist is burned, but is able to flee. Brian, Rimgale and Swayzak leave the house just before the explosion. Rimgale is injured.

Brian speaks to the pyromaniac in prison again, who tells him that the arsonist must be a firefighter. Brian suspects his brother after seeing fire accelerators on him. But Stephen suspects that Brian suspects him. Brian drives to the fire station and searches Stephen's locker and meets John Adcox - a colleague and old friend of the family. This one has the same branding as the arsonist in Swayzak's house. Now everything is clear to Brian. He tries to inform Stephen, but Stephen has already come to the same conclusion. But there is no time to talk about it, because the unit has to move on to a major fire in a chemical plant.

Adcox suspects that Stephen knows. Stephen confronts him on the roof of the burning building. Adcox knew about the manipulations by Swayzak and the others. He wanted to ensure justice that way. Shortly afterwards the roof collapses. Brian falls into an elevator shaft, but Stephen can save him. Both try to escape from the building, with Adcox getting in their way. He wants to prevent his actions from coming to light. An explosion destroys the parapet on which Stephen and Adcox are standing and they both fall into the depths. Adcox dies and Stephen is badly injured. Although he was rescued from the fire, shortly afterwards he succumbed to his injuries in the ambulance.

Swayzak's machinations come to light and he is arrested. Brian hides the Adcox murders. He takes part in the fire brigade operations again and now instructs a "newbie" himself, which closes the circle.


“A mixture of private drama and action film, the thin plot of which relies on emotional cliché situations. The breathtaking staging of conflagrations steals the story from the show. "


The film was nominated for the 1992 Academy Awards in several categories, including Best Visual Effects , Best Sound, and Best Sound Editing .

Hans Zimmer won the Broadcast Music Incorporated Film Music Award for his film music .

The German Film and Media Evaluation FBW in Wiesbaden awarded the film the title valuable.


In 2019, a sequel was released with Backdraft 2 , which was produced directly for the video market. From the first part, William Baldwin and Donald Sutherland take part in their earlier roles. Gonzalo López-Gallego directed the film and Gregory Wide again contributed to the script.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Backdraft - Men Who Walk Through Fire. In: Lexicon of International Films . Film service , accessed March 2, 2017 .Template: LdiF / Maintenance / Access used