The million dollar game

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Original title The million dollar game
The Millionaire Game Logo 001.png
Country of production Germany
original language German
Publishing year 1970
length 95 minutes
Age rating FSK 12
Director Tom Toelle
script Wolfgang crowd
production Peter Märthesheimer
music Irmin Schmidt
camera Rudolf Holan ,
Jan Kalis
cut Marie Anne Gerhardt

Das Millionenspiel is a television film from 1970 by Tom Toelle . The script was written by Wolfgang Quantity , who adapted the short story The Prize of Peril by the American writer Robert Sheckley . It's about a TV show in which a candidate has to flee from hired killers for a week . The population is expressly called upon to either help him or to have him blown.


In the successful television show Das Millionenspiel on the fictional private broadcaster TETV, volunteers will be on the run for seven days in order to win the main prize of one million German marks . The Leverkusen Bernhard Lotz is already the 15th candidate who can voluntarily chase from the Köhler band.

Lotz is on the verge of physical collapse after almost a week without sleep, little food and terrified. He could get out early, but the prospect of the main prize of one million marks and, above all, the fate of his predecessors drive him forward: When one of them got out of the game, he was so ridiculed as a coward by those around him that he Committed suicide .

The whole republic is now sitting spellbound in front of the television, whether full of fascination or disgust. Lotz tries to go into hiding, but is always recognized by his fellow men. Although there are people who want to hand him over to the Köhler gang, he also meets people who help him. Throughout the game, the Koehler gang is always close on his heels.

Scenes from the millionaire game studio, in which the jovial showmaster Thilo Uhlenhorst is doing his job and recording short documentary films from Lotz's life, are repeatedly interspersed. External reporters, who constantly report on the latest developments, provide the connection to the current action. The recordings are also interrupted by highly sexualized commercials by the fictional Stabilelite group .

Also interesting are the discussions behind the scenes in which the millionaire creators cleverly manipulate their own game by helping or damaging Lotz in strategically favorable places.

The end of the film is the grand finale, in which Lotz has to go through the death spiral - a 28.40 meter long tube with three shot points for the Koehler gang. Lotz, who is on the verge of collapse and needs to be taken care of by doctors shortly before the finale, is shot lightly, but reaches the target and receives from Moulian's hands an envelope with a check for the million. However, according to a doctor who was called in, he is in a severe state of shock and is brought out of the studio on a stretcher. Moderator Uhlenhorst declares the 15th edition of the game over and announces the next episode in three weeks.


In terms of content, the film anticipated many later media developments, e. B. private television , quota hunting , reality TV , commercial breaks and fundamentally questions the decline in values due to sensationalism. This development finds its climax above all in the "reporting" of Thilo Uhlenhorst (presented by the popular ZDF show master Dieter Thomas Heck ) and his team of external reporters (also presented by well-known TV and sports reporters), in which the manhunt is commented on like a sporting event .

Menge's show, trimmed for authenticity, with staged exterior shots and cleverly interspersed "documentaries" looked so real that some television viewers thought they were seeing a real manhunt when it was first broadcast on October 18, 1970 on ARD . Their reaction was also interesting: although outrage prevailed, some people called the fictitious phone number of the station and wanted to register as a candidate in the role of the hunted or as a hunter.


Halle Gartlage in the Gartlage district of Osnabrück
  • The television studio in which the manhunt came to an end was the Gartlage hall in Osnabrück , which is still used today for concerts and cattle auctions.
  • Dieter Hallervorden , who plays the leader of the Köhler gang, was still at the beginning of his acting career and became known as a comedian in the mid-1970s through the slapstick series Nonstop Nonsens .
  • The title melody, which is played several times during the film, with dancing, in the television studio, comes from the Cologne band Can .


"'Das Millionenspiel' [draws] clairvoyantly the TV development towards quota-oriented private television and voyeuristic reality TV [...] long since declared a classic."

“The 'Millionenspiel', directed by Tom Toelle, is still convincingly coherent from today's point of view, since almost all the other inhibitions that the crowd tears down in his film have actually fallen. [...] The ' Big Brother ' ideology, not to turn particularly capable people into stars, is not only applied here to the simply knitted Lotz, but also to his short-term helpers or opponents. Within the cruel frame there is a familiar television picture. The jovial presenter is genuinely happy about the 'heroes of the hour' who 'simply come to the aid of the candidate', and hypocritically distances himself from those who play into the hands of the gangsters - just like the afternoon talk show host his guests today Educational ruffle after they - as requested by the director - have become abusive. "

“The perfidious game show is actually a fiction, a prophetic fictional film that anticipates 40 years of television history. Visionary TV satire. "


“The fast-paced and bilious media satire not only triggered protests, but also irritated the audience through its semi-fictional design to such an extent that many wanted to make themselves available as candidates for one of the next shows. The film, which was extremely visionary at the time, anticipated the future of (private) television and, although it has long since caught up with the present, has lost none of its explosiveness. "

Legal, DVD release

Since the producers made a mistake in securing the film rights, there was soon a legal dispute. WDR had acquired the rights to film from Goldmann-Verlag, whose book Das teilte Ich, the short story The Death Plays With by Robert Sheckley , had acquired the rights to film, but Goldmann did not own the rights to film.

The film producer Joseph Cates , as the rights holder, had forbidden further broadcasts and was confirmed on May 3, 1977 at the Frankfurt Higher Regional Court. After two broadcasts, the film disappeared from television for thirty years.

It was only broadcast for a third time on WDR in 2002, after the station had acquired the broadcasting rights for its film for Das Erste , the third programs and Arte for a few thousand euros per broadcast from the current rights holder Studio Canal Image in May 2002 . After that, the film was also shown by ARTE in 2003 and in the first in 2004 . Further broadcasts were on April 6, 2006 on WDR after the death of director Tom Toelle , on November 24, 2007 on Bavarian television and on April 11, 2009 on WDR. Another repetition took place on April 17, 2010 for the 50th anniversary of ARD. On the occasion of the death of Wolfgang Menge, the film was broadcast on WDR on October 18, 2012 - exactly 42 years after its first broadcast. On the 50th anniversary of the first broadcast, the film was shown again on Tagesschau24 on October 18, 2020 .

The legal issues have apparently been resolved, because at the beginning of April 2009 Das Millionenspiel , together with Wolfgang Menges television game Smog , appeared on three DVDs. Also included are interviews and documentaries with and about Wolfgang Menge, as well as an audio commentary by the main actor Jörg Pleva .

Manhunt in the movie

  • The 1965 science fiction film The Tenth Victim , which also tells of a game show with human hunters and victims, is also based on a short story by Robert Sheckley , on the narrative The Seventh Victim .
  • In 1982 the same story was filmed again in France under the title Le prix du danger (Eng .: headhunt - price of fear ).
  • Also in 1982 appeared in the United States the novel manhunt by Stephen King under the pseudonym Richard Bachmann, who tells a similar story.
  • The 1987 film Running Man with Arnold Schwarzenegger is based on this , but it differs significantly from the novel. In particular, the socio-critical reference to the novel is hardly included in the 1987 film. However, the design of the fictional television studio in Running Man looks like an homage to Das Millionenspiel : The color scheme of gray and spectral colors has been adopted, and again a ballet appears to fill the pause. The million game ends with the candidate in a glass tube, and Running Man begins with it.
  • With the theme Manhunt Also the action film deals Hard Target by director John Woo with Jean-Claude Van Damme in the lead role, appeared 1993rd
  • In 2017 the German feature film Immigration Game by director Krystof Zlatnik was released , in which citizens are allowed to hunt bird-free asylum seekers running through the capital Berlin like fair game.

Awards and recognitions

See also

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ The music titles of the broadcast of August 26, 2012 ( Memento of March 8, 2017 in the Internet Archive ). Information about the shipment hot off the press. New books with Denis Scheck on the ARD website, accessed on November 22, 2012.
  2. "The Milion Game". Director Tom Toelle has died. In: Spiegel Online . March 28, 2006, accessed May 31, 2016 .
  3. Jörg Thomann: "Million Play" about life and death. In: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung . July 8, 2002, accessed May 31, 2016 .
  4. As of October 18, 1970 - WDR television film "Das Millionenspiel" is broadcast. In: . October 18, 2010, accessed May 31, 2016 .
  5. The Millionaire Game . In: Lexicon of International Films . Film service , accessed May 31, 2016 .Template: LdiF / Maintenance / Access used 
  6. Article in Telepolis . Retrieved February 26, 2010.
  7. Das Millionenspiel, postage stamp at € 0.70 ( memento from December 27, 2017 in the Internet Archive ), Federal Ministry of Finance, accessed on December 27, 2017.