Knife in the Head

Tuesday, 3 September

Knife in the Head

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KNIFE IN THE HEAD   1978 (Messer im Kopf) Directed by Reinhard Hauff 113 minutes In German with English subtitles

The beginning of this film is absolutely searing. It kicks off with the great Bruno Ganz (Downfall, Wings of Desire) as Hoffman, a bio-geneticist whose wife (Angela Winkler) is working in a youth center, and when the police raid the location, he runs into the building to find her. A cop tells him to stop, he doesn't, and then another cop shoots him - bam - straight in the head. When he wakes in the hospital he has lost his memory, can barely speak, and can't move. What's more, in typical police fashion, they say the cop shot in self-defense when Hoffman attacked the cop with a knife... and they accuse him of being a terrorist. He had never had any political views, but suddenly in the press he is being accused of being a radical leftist. In turn, leftist groups embrace him and fight for his cause. In between all this crossfire, he is trying to recover, learn to speak again, and struggling to figure out what the hell happened.

This is a great film that captures the mood of mid-70s Germany. Believe it or not, only a few decades after the tragedy of WWII, the West German government didn't have any qualms about quickly becoming an outright authoritarian police state, with controls on many main roads, conducting brutal attacks on political centers, abandoning privacy laws and civil liberties, and stamping out alternatives. The police worked hand in hand with the tabloid press and mainstream media to justify their actions. The country was in a total clampdown, and that aspect is beautifully depicted in the background of this flick. The idea of paralysis is therefore explored on several levels - biologically and socially.

Bruno Ganz gives a brilliant performance, and the ambient synthesizer soundtrack that flows through the film is by Irmin Schmidt of the progressive Kraut-rock band Can. Knife in the Head was fleetingly shown in 1978, but quickly was disappeared, only to re-emerge now as a razor-sharp portrait of an era.

This will be a high-definition screening.

Date & Time: 

Tuesday, 3 September, 2019 - 20:30


  • film


  • 3-5 €
- 3 €
Filmhuis Cavia
Van Hallstraat 52-1
1051 HH Amsterdam


Go through the gate. Cavia is on the right hand side, above Xena Sports. Take the stairs.


Former squat, now legalised

Filmhuis Cavia is a counterculture cinema, founded in 1983 by a squatters movement, which programs films you aren't likely to see anywhere else.


  • film

opening times: 

Our regular screenings are on Tuesdays (programmed by Jeffrey), Thursdays and Fridays, but we also have extra screenings and film festivals throughout the year. Look us up to find our monthly program.

Doors always open half an hour before the film starts.

Weekly programme of film screenings in a circuit of underground / self-organised venues. Forgotten movies that should have been classics, neglected flics, lesser-known gems, always with a personal introduction by the programmer. All films in English, or with English subtitles.


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opening times: 

mostly Sunday to Thursday at about 7 different underground locations.