By the time he passed away in 2015, Helmut Dietl had made a name for himself in the German language film industry that would make many envious. He had written and directed dozens of films and television series. Dietl had been given countless awards, including being recognized with multiple lifetime achievement awards. Bavaria has recognized him with its highest honor, the Order of Merit. So this month, let’s learn German with the films of famed director and writer Helmut Dietl.
About Helmut Dietl
Helmut Dietl is a Bavarian through and through. He was born in 1944 in Bad Wiessee, a city on the western shore of the Tegernsee, before growing up in nearby Munich. Even from birth, Dietl had filmmaking in his blood. His paternal grandfather was an Austrian actor and director. He pursued theater and art history at Munich’s Ludwig Maximilian University and eventually worked for the Munich Kammerspiele, a theater company in the city.
By the 1970s, Dietl had gotten into television. Two decades later, in the 1990s, Dietl’s focus turned to the big screen. He released a number of films with his final film, 2012’s Zettl, being a writing collaboration with author/journalist Benjamin von Stuckrad-Barre.
Sadly, Dietl passed away in March of 2015 in his beloved Munich. He was 70 years old. You don’t have to be a family member or friend to visit Dietl’s final resting place. Dietl is buried at Bogenhausener Friedhof, just a few yards from another legendary German director and writer, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, in central Munich.
Monaco Franze – Der ewige Stenz
Monaco is the Italian name for Munich, which some refer to as the northernmost Italian city. So it makes sense that Monaco Franze is the nickname of the retired police officer and “eternal dandy” (“ewige Stenz“) Franz Münchinger, portrayed by Helmut Fischer. In the ten-episode Monaco Franze that ran in 1983 on German television channel ARD, Monaco is quite the ladies man despite his marriage to Annette (portrayed by Ruth Maria Kubitschek), a sophisticated woman from a class higher than that of her husband. Over the course of the comedy series, Monaco and his best friend Manni get themselves into some adventures.
Like many of Dietl’s works, the show is notable for his use of Bavarian dialect, humor, and local references.
Kir Royal – Aus dem Leben eines Klatschreporters
Several years after Monaco Franze, Dietl followed it up with Kir Royal – Aus dem Leben eines Klatschreporters. (Or, in English: Kir Royal – From the life of a gossip reporter.) The six-episode show from 1986 follows gossip columnist Baby Schimmerlos. Portrayed by Franz Xaver Kroetz, Schimmerlos is digging for dirt amongst Munich’s trendiest citizens. At the same time, he is trying to keep his girlfriend Mona, portrayed by Senta Berger, happy. The show is a satire of the city’s Abendzeitung newspaper.
Notably, Dietl continued the Kir Royal world with Zettl with several actors, including Berger, reprising their roles from nearly three decades prior.
For 1992’s Schtonk!, Dietl provides a fictionalized, satirical account of when Stern magazine published Hitler’s diaries in 1983. The only problem is that the excerpts are fake!
In the film, Fritz Knobel (portrayed by Uwe Ochsenknecht) is a fraud, producing and selling fake Nazi memorabilia. One of the items he fakes is Adolf Hitler’s diary. When journalist Hermann Willié (portrayed by Götz George), gets his hands on the excerpt, he thinks he has a story. Knobel begins producing further diary excerpts, using his life as inspiration. The alleged diaries raise obvious questions about their authenticity. However, the journalists seem willing to overlook these inconsistencies. Knobel falls further and further into his plot of deception.
Schtonk! was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the 1993 Academy Awards and Golden Globes. The film lost both times to Indochine. Actress Veronica Ferres, Dietl’s partner and muse for much of the 1990s, also appears in the film.
Practice practice practice! Discover other great German language actors and actresses previously featured.
Top photo from IMDB. Monaco France photo from BR. This post contains affiliate links.