Knife in the Head

Watch Knife in the Head

  • 1978
  • 1 hr 48 min
  • 7.0  (715)

Knife in the Head is a German film released in 1978 directed by reinventor of German cinema, Reinhard Hauff. Featuring a talented cast comprised of Bruno Ganz, Angela Winkler, and Hans Christian Blech, the film tells a gripping narrative about the consequences of political uprising and associated power dynamics. This dramatic thriller sets itself apart from other films of its time and serves as a landmark piece of cinema to this day.

The story opens with Dr. Schmith (Bruno Ganz) in bed with his wife, Hannah (Angela Winkler). They get awoken by a sudden loud noise that catches their attention. Dr. Schmith steps outside to investigate and finds a bleeding man on the ground, and at the same time, a group of political activists gather outside of the clinic where Schmith works. The bleeding man turns out to be a wanted criminal, and Schmith realizes that the activists are looking for him. In the commotion that follows, Schmith is struck on the head with a large knife and left for dead.

Miraculously, Schmith survives the attack but ends up with a severe case of amnesia as a result. While under treatment, the police, who are under pressure to demonstrate their progress, frame him for the crime committed by the actual attacker. His trauma, meanwhile, has left him unable to comprehend why his memory is failing him. When the crime is publically revealed, Schmith, who has no recollection of his involvement or actions, becomes wanted both by the police and the activists who believe him to be a member of the government or the police.

Hannah seeks the help of a former lover Joachim (Hans Christian Blech), who is also a member of the political activists but is careful never to be associated with them when it comes to gaining treatment for Schmith. The film’s narrative takes the viewer into the twisted world of political subterfuge, with Hannah's connection to Joachim expanding as she is drawn deeper into his world. Her involvement with the activist's cause, in turn, puts her relationship with her husband under further strain.

The script was written by Peter Schneider, a seasoned political theorist, and advocate for political reform, who understood the complexity of political subterfuge and how it can be used to manipulate society. The multi-layered narrative builds tension as the viewer is left wondering if Schmith will survive this murky world of politics and if his memory loss will ultimately prove to be his downfall. The film taps into the zeitgeist of the time and questions the way in which those in power can use narrative, propaganda, and fear to control a population.

Knife in the Head is a dark, dramatic film that is both tense and thought-provoking. It is a timeless classic that grapples with political ideologies, notions of power, and memory. Hauff's direction is subtle and restrained, allowing the narrative's nuances and performances to take center stage. He creates a mood of fear and unease throughout the film, but also captures a sense of hope and freedom that comes with standing up for one's beliefs, regardless of the cost.

The film's performances are excellent, with Bruno Ganz in particular delivering a captivating portrayal of Dr. Schmith. His agony and confusion, as he tries to understand the fragmented memories of his life before and after the attack, shed light on the way in which trauma and memory loss can be used to manipulate a person's perceptions of themselves and their past. Winkler's portrayal of Hannah showcases the fear and isolation that can come when a person's political views are exposed, and Blech's portrayal of Joachim highlights the passion and conviction of those willing to risk everything for their beliefs.

In conclusion, Knife in the Head is a gripping, intense thriller that expertly explores political subterfuge, power dynamics, and memory. It is a timeless classic that still speaks to audiences today, and its nuanced performances and expert direction make it one of the most notable films of the 1970s. The film showcases a respected director, brilliant performances, and a thoughtful script to explore themes of identity in a way that few films have matched since.

Knife in the Head is a 1978 drama with a runtime of 1 hour and 48 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 7.0.

Knife in the Head
Where to Watch Knife in the Head
Knife in the Head is available to watch free on Kanopy. It's also available to stream, download and buy on demand at Amazon Prime, Apple TV and Vudu. Some platforms allow you to rent Knife in the Head for a limited time or purchase the movie and download it to your device.
  • Release Date
  • Runtime
    1 hr 48 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    7.0  (715)