Wednesday, 10 June 2015

End of the Game - film review

End of the Game is a 1975 film that is known under various names, including the original German title, Der Richter and sein Henker (The Judge and his Hangman.) It's based on a book published 25 years earlier, written by the Swiss playwright and novelist Friedrich Durrenmatt. When I was studying for my A Levels and S Levels in German, at the tender age of 17, I read Durrenmatt's famous play, The Visit, which I thought was superb. This prompted me to seek out his other work, including Der Richter und sein Henker, a detective story. I really enjoyed it - and not just because it was short and pretty easy to read in the original German!

I did not, however, find out until recently that the book had been filmed. Thanks to Sergio's excellent blog, Tipping My Fedora, I learned about the DVD's existence, and made sure I acquired a copy. I'm glad I did. The cast is excellent. Donald Sutherland has a tough part, playing a cop who is found shot dead in his car right at the start of the story. Jon Voight plays the keen young detective Tschanz, the breathtaking Jacqueline Bisset is the dead man's girlfriend, and Robert Shaw is the nasty criminal whom the lead detective, the cancer-stricken Barlach, is trying to pay back for past misdemeanours,

One very pleasing feature of the film is that Durrenmatt himself makes an appearance - as a writer called Friedrich. We encounter him, musing over a chess game. When asked what he is doing, he says, "I am playing myself." The double meaning is a typical Durrenmatt joke - his specialism was not detection, but comedy, usually with an ironic edge.

This is a stylised film, by no means wholly realistic, but none the worse for that. The mystery element is not at all bad - the complications are piled on rather cleverly, thus blinding the viewer to what is, in truth, an obvious solution to the whodunit question. The cast is very good, and the soundtrack is provided by that wonderful composer Ennio Morricone. I was glad to be reminded of Durrenmatt's excellence. Recommended.

1 comment:

Sergio (Tipping My Fedora) said...

I think you liked this one even more than I did Martin but comparing it to the book may do this very quirky movie a bit of a disservice,