The ghost

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Original title The ghost
Country of production FRG
original language German
Publishing year 1982
length 84 minutes
Age rating FSK 12 (re-examination)
JMK confiscated (§ 188 StGB)
Director Herbert Achternbusch
script Herbert Achternbusch
production Herbert Achternbusch
camera Jörg Schmidt-Reitwein
cut Micki Joanni

The Ghost is a black and white film by Herbert Achternbusch from 1982. In the tragicomic satire , Achternbusch deals with the conflict between the returned Jesus and today's world. The blasphemy allegation against the scandal film led to a temporary refusal of approval by the Voluntary Self-Control of the Film Industry (FSK) and to a reduction in the promised film funding by Federal Interior Minister Friedrich Zimmermann .


The life-size figure of Christ, the 42nd Lord God of a Bavarian monastery church, rises from the cross and becomes waiter at the side of the superior of the monastery, with whom he travels through Bavaria. Here he meets the police, passers-by from Munich, a bishop and other people. He is repeatedly transformed into an increasingly weaker snake, only to soar into the air in the beak of the Superior, who has been transformed into a bird of prey.

Approval in the Federal Republic of Germany

The distributor wanted to ensure that the film was unobjectionable under criminal law, which is why it first submitted it to the SPIO's Legal Commission in December 1982 . The commission asked for a cut for a scene in which Christ is addressed personally as "shit". The distributor complied with this request, presented the film to the FSK in March 1983 and applied for approval from the age of 18.

However, the two auditors of the film industry, who in the working committee alone decided on the release, refused this on March 29, 1983, because the attacks of the film on the presence of the church created "an only pessimistic and nihilistic basic pattern of the world", which "dem religious feelings of a part of the population numbering millions ”in public demonstrations could not be expected.

The distributor appealed against this assessment. With 2: 1 votes, the responsible representatives of the film industry in the main committee decided on April 20, 1983 that it should be left to "adult visitors interested in viewing this strip to deal with the film, which is certainly and understandably controversial in terms of content and form."


The ghost was produced on the basis of a funding commitment from the Federal Ministry of the Interior under Gerhart Baum (FDP) in the amount of 300,000 DM. The film opened at the end of 1982 and initially received little attention. In April 1983, state film funding was described as a waste of taxes in the reporting of Bild am Sonntag and Welt am Sonntag published by Axel Springer Verlag . The Bonn Interior Ministry, now headed by Friedrich Zimmermann (CSU), received several hundred letters of protest. After he had watched the film for himself, Zimmermann canceled the outstanding sum of 75,000 DM as not all of the installments had been paid to Achternbusch.

At the 1983 Munich Film Festival , 50 filmmakers protested against this approach. There were also protests at the awarding of the Federal Film Prize in the Berlin Zoo-Palast. Filmmakers disguised as ghosts demonstrated against the decision. In addition, the German Cultural Council reprimanded Zimmermann's actions. Due to the public controversy, over 150,000 viewers saw the film in cinemas and thus far more than usual for Achternbusch films.

In addition to expressions of solidarity by filmmakers, there were also protests against the film, especially in Bavaria. In Munich, over a thousand Catholic KPE scouts formed for an atonement procession in which they asked for forgiveness for the sinner Achternbusch. Attempts to obtain a nationwide ban on the film failed, however. It is true that the Munich public prosecutor's office brought charges for violating Section 166 of the German Criminal Code (“insulting denominations, religious communities and ideological associations”). However, the regional court dropped the proceedings on the grounds that the film lacks “a minimum of format” and therefore falls into the “category of the poor, silly, silly and tasteless”. The public prosecutor appealed against this decision to the Munich Higher Regional Court, but it was also rejected.

After the performance, Minister Zimmermann asked for a schnapps and said, "that he tends to refuse the film further government grants." However, he subsequently implemented significant changes for the award of the federal film prizes . Among other things, the prize money for the next project should only make up 30 percent of the total production costs. In the Bundestag session on October 24, 1983, Zimmermann declared that he would not finance any films that no one except the producer wanted to see. This measure had serious consequences for German auteur films , as in future hardly any filmmaker would be able to pre-finance or even bring in the remaining 70 percent of a production.

Prohibition in Austria

According to § 188 StGB (degradation of religious teachings) the film was confiscated shortly after it was released in Austria. This prohibition is still in force today, but the film can still be borrowed from some Austrian libraries for academic work.

Video publishing

There were German publications on video at BMG / Ufa and the direct shipping company Zweiausendeins .

In November 2008, five films by Herbert Achternbusch appeared for the first time in Germany as a DVD box. One of them was The Ghost . The DVD label Pierrot Le Fou submitted the film to the FSK again for publication. After the test, the film received the new age rating FSK 12. In August 2010 the film was also released as a single DVD.


Thomas Kramer (Ed.): Reclams Lexikon des Deutschen Films Reclam, Stuttgart 1995: “A viewer who is not familiar with Achternbusch's loosely lined up, crazy clownings is required a certain amount of tolerance not to disengage from the unorthodox mess.”


  • Herbert Achternbusch: The Ghost: Film Book. Two thousand and one, Frankfurt am Main 1983, DNB 830906886 .
  • Jürgen Kniep: No youth approval! Film censorship in West Germany 1949–1990. Wallstein, Göttingen 2010, ISBN 978-3-8353-0638-7 .
  • Thomas Kramer (ed.): Reclam's Lexicon of German Films. Reclam, Stuttgart 1995, ISBN 3-15-010410-6 .
  • Stefan Volk: Scandal films. Cinematic excitement yesterday and today. Schüren, Marburg 2011, ISBN 978-3-89472-562-4 .
  • Herbert Achternbusch: The ghost. In: Thomas Koebner with the assistance of Kernstin-Luise Neumann (ed.): Film classics. (= Reclams Universal Library. No. 9419). Reclam, Stuttgart 1995, ISBN 3-15-009419-4 , pp. 52-54.

Individual evidence

  1. Jürgen Kniep: No youth approval! 2010, p. 329.
  2. Jürgen Kniep: No youth approval! 2010, pp. 329-330.
  3. Stefan Volk: Scandal Films. 2011, p. 219.
  4. Thomas Kramer (Ed.): Reclam's Lexicon of German Films. 1995, p. 119.
  5. a b Stefan Volk: Scandal Films. 2011, p. 220.
  6. Stefan Volk: Scandal Films. 2011, p. 220f.
  7. Der Spiegel of May 9, 1983

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