schimanski going wild in his ruhr area

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The following fictional Tv series, as part of television history, is shown in its original form. It contains passages with discriminatory language and attitudes.

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Currywurst and Schimanski Jacket

In 1981, Schimanski made his first appearance on German TV (ARD) in the TV series Tatort with the episode Duisburg-Ruhrort. Time and again one can read that Schimanski made TV history, that with him a new type of detective was created who eclipsed everything that had existed until then.

… and what was that?

Schimanski never looks like a proper German detective commissioner. He wears jeans (or something like that), he wears this army jacket that quickly becomes the Schimanski jacket, with which Schimanski even makes a little fashion history, because this jacket becomes a standard. He has a moustache, but always appears rather unshaven and has the long, curly, shaggy hair typical of the time.

Schimanski hates office work and bureaucracy – and of course all the correct police officers. Writing reports is a horror to him. His collection of evidence is hair-raising compared to today’s standards à la CSI. His dealings with colleagues take some getting used to; he likes to bully, especially the forensics people.

He identifies himself by loosely pulling out his badge and usually makes it disappear again immediately. You trust him, you chat with him and he collects information. When he’s hungry, he gulps down a Currywurst and chips. He drinks beer, and he swears and fights in pubs all the time.

… and he’s kind of sweet. Women fancy him – he never has any problems finding a place to stay. Today they call that kind of thing macho. Later he becomes more solid and has a steady relationship, but only later.

Götz George is Schimanski. For me, this connection is inseparable. The Schimanski films run for over 30 years and Götz George ages during that time … and Schimanski ages as well. They say the role was conceived for Götz George in exactly that way … and I think it fitted from the beginning. (Since there are no novels about the series, there is no alternative portrayal of the main character!)

Let’s start with Duisburg-Ruhrort. We are in the middle of the dirty Ruhr area, in a suburb where there are still cobblestones, where greasy pubs are the refuge for all men who have little or no work or who are pensioners and somehow have to kill their time. The apartment buildings date back to pre-war years – I’m not necessarily thinking of the last war. They drink (a lot), smoke (a lot), swear and grab the waitress in the tight pencil skirt.

… and people are not very fussy about marital fidelity.

… and in the harbour basin a corpse rocks in the tides, having been stabbed.

Was it a jealousy drama? Was it a settling of accounts between bargemen? Was it a drug deal gone wrong? Weapons trafficking? Schimanski uncovers many things, until finally a Molotov cocktail flies into a Turkish bar. But then he finds the murderer.

The case is set in the milieu of workers and small traders. Schimanski feels at home here. His appearance fits into this milieu – his colleague Thanner does not. Thanner is always smartly dressed, suit, tie … Schimanski and Thanner are a team, even if they don’t look alike. Schimanski is the rebel who always and everywhere rebels against everything and is often suspended, while Thanner tends to stick to the rules and tries to straighten out what Schimanski has screwed up. Maybe that’s what makes them so successful, because they complement each other so well.

I’ve already pointed out that Schimanski likes to fight and bully in the run-up. He drags Thanner into this quagmire every now and then, but Thanner can handle it. These two commissioners from the 80s (and later) are certainly not politically correct – especially if you compare this team with today’s Tatort teams. Today there is equality: a team always consists of one male and one female commissioner. And the chief is a female chief. In Schimanski’s time, women were more like ornamental accessories who were turned on and never acted as full-time investigators.

Schimanski is a relaxed man. Schimanski also likes to put his foot in his mouth and fight his way through the other cases. Eventually he leaves the Duisburg police and lives in Belgium for a few years. Then he is brought back to Duisburg to investigate the death of Thanner as a freelance investigator. This case is followed by others … Schimanski remains true to himself, even when he gets older and times change …

Schimanski has – as they say – also made the expression shit acceptable.

All in all, I think one can understand why the Schimanski films today are garnished with that reference (see above) – today that lifestyle and lust for life, those emotions and choice of words no longer fit into our politically correct media landscape.

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a faint cold fear thrills through my veins ... william shakespeare