The untouchable

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original title The untouchable
production country Germany
original language German
Publishing year 2000
length 110 minutes
age rating FSK 12
directing Oscar Roehler
script Oscar Roehler
production Kate Ehrmann ,
Ulrich Caspar
music Martin Todsharow
camera Hagen Bogdanski
cut Isabel Meier

The Untouchables is the fourth feature film by German director Oskar Roehler from 2000. Roehler processed the last phase in the life of his mother Gisela Elsner .


Autumn 1989: Pictures of the fall of the Berlin Wall are shown on television while the writer Hanna Flanders is on the phone with the playwright Ronald in her Munich apartment and announces her suicide with arsenic . Both decide to smoke another cigarette and Ronald is able to persuade Hanna to put down the arsenic bottle.

Hanna's psyche was even more shaken by the news of the fall of the Wall than it already is: Hanna is addicted to nicotine and pills and can no longer sleep. Now she also feels the burden of no longer being published, since the GDR was the only country in which her books were still printed. The utopia of imposing Lenin's ideas in the Federal Republic remained utopia after the fall of the Berlin Wall. She decides to move to Berlin . The move devours a large part of her fortune, and she spends another chunk on a coat from Dior .

In Berlin she first visits her son, who reacts aggressively when Hanna smokes in his apartment because he has given up smoking since the fall of the Wall. She cannot share his enthusiasm for Berlin and also asks him about drugs. Her latent contempt for his writing angers him and she leaves. Hanna moves into the Hotel Excelsior and spends the night with a prostitute, unsure how to behave towards him. The next day she goes to her publisher, who celebrates half drunk with friends and announces that Hanna will no longer be able to publish her works.

Your furniture from Munich hasn't arrived yet. Hanna has hardly any money left and is accommodated by the enterprising Grete in the publisher's author's apartment outside of the city in a prefabricated building area. The apartment is so run-down that Hanna spends the night in a bar. There is also a celebration there, and a drunk teacher speaks to Hanna. He has read all of her works and treated some of them in class. When he becomes intrusive, Hanna rejects him, she is insulted and threatened. The bar visitors help her.

Hanna flees and the next morning, in tears, finds herself at a food truck. A young woman who was in the bar the night before takes her into her family. Hanna can sleep for the first time and she also takes off her black wig. When she wakes up, she joins the family, but realizes that her grief over the fall of the Wall is not met with understanding. After a short phone call with Ronald, she leaves Berlin.

First, her path leads to her parents, whom she asks for money. Her mother is hostile to her, her father understanding, but unable to assert herself against her mother. She leaves with 500 marks from her father and meets her first husband Bruno at the train station, who alone raised their son from their marriage. He persuades her to go to Darmstadt with him and she spends the night with him. It turns out that he too was never able to process a deep trauma – the death of a loved one by flames – and has become a drinker. Hanna leaves him after one night and goes to Munich. In her old apartment she finds everything untouched. The furniture is still on the move and she sleeps on her things, which she always carries with her in a holdall. The next morning she tries to return the Dior coat she had bought, but is refused a return. Hanna gets drunk in a bar and finally collapses on the street.

She wakes up in a hospital, where she is told that she has to go through nicotine withdrawal, otherwise she will get a smoker 's leg , which will have to be amputated. In addition to nicotine withdrawal, which is no guarantee of saving her leg, Hanna has to start a detox to get off the pills. She realizes that cigarettes are the only thing in her life that she really likes. Even a last visit from Ronald in the rehab clinic, who is going to Vienna to stage one of his plays, gives her no more consolation. She secretly smokes one last cigarette in the clinic's toilet and then throws herself out of the window.


“The biography of the poet is opened up in black and white images that express the psychological state of the main character. Without using flashbacks, director Oskar Roehler, Gisela Elsner's son, makes the inner and outer political circumstances of this vita understandable. The film, a balancing act in its critical and tender distance, proves to be artistically impressive and exciting in all respects. The outstanding Hannelore Elsner played a significant part in the title role.”


In 2001, The Untouchables was awarded the German Film Prize in Gold for best feature film . In the same year, the film also received the Golden Tulip for Best Film at the International Istanbul Film Festival . Hannelore Elsner received the German Film Award for her performance in 2000 as well as the Bavarian Film Award for best actress.


  • Cooke, Paul: Whatever Happened to Veronica Voss? Rehabilitating the "68ers" and the Problem of Westalgia in Oskar Roehler's The Untouchables (2000). In: German Studies Review. Vol. 27, No. 1, 2004, pp. 33-44.
  • Frey, Mattias: No(ir) Place to Go: Spatial Anxiety and Sartorial Intertextuality in The Untouchable . In: Cinema Journal. 45, No. 4, 2006, pp. 64-80.
  • Leal, Joanne: Time, Transformation and Tradition in Oskar Roehler's The Untouchables . In: German as a foreign language journal. Issue 1, 2006, pp. 76-89. PDF
  • Moltke, Johannes von: Terrains Vagues. Landscapes of Unification in Oskar Roehler's No Place to Go . In: Fisher, Jaimey; Prager, Brad (ed.): The Collapse of the Conventional. German Film and Its Politics at the Turn of the Twenty-First Century. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2010, pp. 157-185.
  • Roehler, Oskar (ed.): "The Untouchable". The original script. Cologne: Kiepenheuer & Witsch, 2002.


  1. The Untouchables. In: Lexicon of international film . Filmdienst , retrieved May 27, 2017 . 

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