A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
This terrible crime was made much worse by the media circus that closely followed and broadcast events as they unfolded. The only positive outcomes were the resignation of a public official, long jail sentences for the perpetrators, and changes to laws and policies about media access to crimes in progress.
Positive Role Models
No individuals or organizations portrayed model positive behavior. A couple of journalists are brave enough to interact directly with the hostage takers, but whether they did so to be genuinely helpful, to advance their careers, or for a combination of reasons isn't clear.
The people who are the main focus are all White. The bus passengers taken hostage and bystanders in the background have a range of skin colors, body types, and ages.
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Violence & Scariness
Still images and original footage, often grainy and shaky with tense music and sounds of gunfire, show a gunshot victim being carried away with blood visible on his shirt and EMTs treating him on the ground; violent police takedowns of the perpetrators; a pool of blood on the ground; and a body under a tarp. Two teens were murdered. One perpetrator is almost always holding or brandishing a handgun and mentions several times that he has nothing to live for, gesturing with a pistol in his mouth that he'll shoot himself if there's no other way out. One perpetrator expresses suicidal thoughts.
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"F--king," "s--t," and "bastards" translated from German.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
People smoke in almost every scene. Mention that the perpetrators chain smoke. Mention that they took pills to stay awake and drank a lot of beer, especially as the cause of increasingly erratic behavior.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Gladbeck: The Hostage Crisis is a documentary that uses original footage and photographs to show the events of a bank robbery/hostage-taking crisis in Germany in 1988. It's in German with subtitles or dubbing available. Robbery, kidnapping, and murder are the main events; two murder victims were teens. Often grainy, shaky footage combined with tense music and abrupt cuts show the real aftermath of violence like a victim's bloody shirt and a pool of blood on the ground. Actual violence like police takedowns and shootings aren't gory and are shown with still images and sound effects. Lots of people smoking, and it's mentioned that the perpetrators chain smoke. Mention that the perpetrators took pills to stay awake and then drank a lot of beer. One perpetrator expresses suicidal thoughts. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This is an intense, harrowing, and gripping account of the violence surrounding a real bank robbery and taking of hostages. Gladbeck: The Hostage Crisis has a strong point of view about the role that the media, especially journalists on the ground following the perpetrators, played in escalating the situation at nearly every turn. Older teens who can handle the intense material and who are fans of the true-crime genre will find a lot of food for thought here.
The filmmakers provide very little context, but viewers who didn't know about this apparently watershed moment in German media history should be able to figure things out as the events unfold. Law enforcement is left largely out of the story, so viewers interested in other points of view and/or more context can be encouraged to research it.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.