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Holtzmanns Erzählungen

The Tales of Holtzmann
A journey around the world and the theatre with the actor Thomas Holtzmann

The film accompanies the archetypal Bavarian Thomas Holtzmann (1927-2013), 'the scarface of German theatre', hero of the Soviet Union, expert on the Pacific Ocean and actor in films by, amongst others, Orson Welles, Helmut Dietl and Herbert Achternbusch, on a journey around the world and the theatre.
His physical height (1,90m), his slightly bent and gawkish posture, his furrowed face and his powerful voice quickly made Thomas Holtzmann one of the most remarkable individuals of German theatre. 'An actor who acts from the chin downwards', George Tabori remarked about him. Thomas Holtzmann's face shows, increasingly with advancing age, meekness and softness. In public life, he had a reputation of being aloof.

The adolescent Holtzmann was beset by panic and abhorrence towards the Nazis living in his Munich neighbourhood. As a 'late-born' he was still recruited to the Hitler Youth as a Flak helper. He was on duty in immediate proximity to the Dachau concentration camp. Holtzmann viewed the liberation of Munich by the Americans as a redemption and has vivid memories of the post-war years and his debut as Jason in Medea at the Munich Ateliertheater (1949). During his first engagement in Schleswig, he met his future wife Gustl Halenke, as well as Rolf Boysen, who was under contract in Kiel at the time. Following the obligatory tour de force through the provinces (Schleswig, Nürnberg, Saarbrücken), he arrived in Berlin, where in 1961 he celebrated his first great success as The Prince of Homburg in Heinrich von Kleist's eponymous play.

During the 1960s, Holtzmann was one of the 'Jungen Wilde' of German theatre and played the anti-heros Clavigo and Antonius under Fritz Kortner. Kortner helped Holtzmann cope with the generational changeover in the theatre around the year 1968. The SFB TV programme Traumrolle Hamlet (Plum Part Hamlet) portrays Holtzmann as a misfit of his time, when a good part was decried as a construct of the bourgeoisie and the actor's theatre became a director's theatre. Besides Fritz Kortner, the other genius that Holtzmann was able to work with was Orson Welles. In The Trial after Kafka (1961), which Welles considered his best film, Holtzmann appears with an incredible presence as a young student.

Thomas Holtzmann excelled as a tragicomical actor, particularly as Malvolio in Twelfth Night (1980), directed by Dieter Dorn, in George Tabori's production of Waiting for Godot (1984) and most recently as Hamlet in Beckett's Endgame. An excerpt from the list of his parts reads like something most young actors can only dreamily aspire to: Prospero, Hamlet, Faust, Oedipus and Posa, Shakespeare, Beckett and Bernhard. Together with Holtzmann we look at some moments taken from his most important parts. What do you aspire to when you've played all the plum parts?


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Holtzmanns Erzählungen
The Tales of Holtzmann
A journey around the world and the theatre with the actor Thomas Holtzmann

Coproduced by Andreas Lewin Filmproduktion and Bayerischer Rundfunk

45 min
Director of Photography Wojciech Szepel, Tomasz Tupalski
Sound Jan Weymann
Editor Sabine Brose (BFS)