One thing has to be left to the ARD: The timing of the 50th “Tatort” anniversary was perfect. Exactly 50 years ago to the day, on November 29, 1970, the first episode, the thriller “Taxi to Leipzig”, ran. Half a century later, the Ruhrpott quartet Peter Faber (Jörg Hartmann), Martina Bönisch (Anna Schudt), Nora Dalay (Aylin Tezel) and Jan Pawlak (Rick Okon) meet with their Bavarian colleagues Ivo Batic (Miroslav Nemec) and Franz Leitmayr (Udo Wachtveitl). “Experimental” like the 1,000 in 2016. As a result of the format – Axel Milberg and Maria Furtwängler mostly drove together in a taxi – it was not this time. Instead, WDR and BR presented a very precise Mafia story, the coldness of which made one shudder. But is it also realistic?
What was it about?
Two Munich residents in Dortmund: a mafioso who committed a murder in the Bavarian metropolis has found shelter in a Dortmund pizzeria. The mixed team of investigators (from left: Jörg Hartmann, Miroslav Nemec, Aylin Tezel and Udo Wachtveitl) found a central transshipment point for cocaine there. (WDR / Frank Dicks)
The cold-blooded murderer (Emiliano de Martino) of a small drug dealer barely escapes the police in Munich. He is brought to Dortmund along with a drug delivery. There the ‘Ndrangheta, as the Mafia is called in Calabria, maintains a kind of logistics center for cocaine. Under the guise of an inconspicuous pizzeria, the coke is distributed here from one truck to another and distributed across northern Europe via nearby transport hubs. The pizzeria is owned by Luca Modica (Beniamino Brogi) and his German wife Juliane (Antje Traue). The two parents of the meanwhile 17-year-old Sofia (Emma Preisendanz) are very young. At that time, the mafia provided the start-up capital for the destitute German-Italian family. Now she has to do everything the criminal organization tells her – while the Dortmund and Munich inspectors lie in wait in front of the inconspicuous restaurant.
What was it really about?
General assembly of the “Tatort” commissioners on the Dortmund Night (from left): Franz Leitmayr (Udo Wachtveitl), Jan Pawlak (Rick Okon), Martina Bönisch (Anna Schudt) and Nora Dalay (Aylin Tezel) have a pizzeria in their sights who distributes drugs and hides a mafia killer. (WDR / Frank Dicks)
“In der Familie”, the title of the double “crime scene”, dictates the analysis: Top screenwriter Bernd Lange (“Das Disappearance”) created an almost Greek-looking drama that dissected close, “familial” relationship structures fatal triangle of love, constraints and factual dependencies, which left the characters with no other way out than to produce a human tragedy.The most touching moment in this “crime scene”, the pizzeria owner’s murder of his beloved wife on the orders of the mafia , got so sad because in all its repulsiveness there was no alternative in view of the practical constraints. Part two now has to do without “secret star” Antje Traue, who has already shot several times for Hollywood and in German projects such as “Der Fall Barschel” or the series “Weinberg” could be seen.
Who were the other actors?
A family business in Dortmund: The German Juliane Modica (Antje Traue, right) runs a pizzeria in Dortmund with her husband from Italy. Her 17-year-old daughter Sofia (Emma Preisendanz, left) also helps out there after school. (WDR / Frank Dicks)
Emma Preisendanz, 18-year-old newcomer from Munich, the daughter of the pizzeria operator, played remarkably good because it was very natural. The fact that the consistently Italian-speaking Mafiosi were also played by actors largely unknown in Germany was one of the strengths of the crime drama, which also made the staff seem unpredictable.
Emiliano de Martino, who played the family intruder Pippo, was seen for the first time in a German film production. The Italian has been known in his homeland since the mid-90s when he played a child role in a soap. The 38-year-old is also familiar with mafia parts. In 2013 he played in the Camorra epic “Malanapoli – La ventunesima stella”. The father of the family Luca Modica was portrayed by Beniamino Brogi, who acted as Nori in the series “The Medici: Rulers of Florence”. Absurdly enough, the German and English speaking Italian was also part of the blockbuster “The First Avenger: Civil War” – in a mini role as a German news anchor!
Investigator Nora Dalay (Aylin Tezel, back left) seeks contact with Juliane Modica (Antje Traue, second from right), who regularly attends a fitness course. (WDR / Frank Dicks)
How much does the Mafia get involved in Germany?
The Italian police assume that the ‘Ndrangheta controls 60 to 80 percent of the cocaine market across Europe. The coke is often shipped from Latin America along with legal goods such as bananas, rice, or wood to companies owned by the mafia. 14 men have been on trial in Düsseldorf since mid-October, five of whom are alleged members of the Calabrian ‘Ndrangheta syndicate. It’s about 680 kilograms of cocaine, which should be sold at prices of up to 36,000 euros per kilo. Deutsche Welle reported in detail on the case.
Investigators Nora Dalay (Aylin Tezel) and Jan Pawlak (Rick Okon) are investigating “undercover” in the Modica family’s restaurant in Dortmund. (WDR / Frank Dicks)
In addition to the cocaine trade, according to the magazine “stern”, the “sale” of food to restaurateurs is a popular business area for mafiosi in Germany. “The Federal Criminal Police Office has had findings on 23 homicides with a total of 30 fatalities in Germany since 1990, which are attributed to the Italian Mafia,” the report said.
As for the extent of protection payments made by Italian restaurants to the Mafia, these crimes, which were once very common, are said to have subsided. The mafia now has a new trick: If innkeepers have to buy low-quality food at excessive prices, organized crime can ultimately only be charged with “coercion” and not with more serious offenses. According to the “stern” at the end of 2019, the mafia is particularly active in Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria, Hesse and North Rhine-Westphalia.
This time he has to share “his territory” with two grizzled investigators from Munich: Pott-Wüterich Peter Faber (Jörg Hartmann) in front of a Dortmund map. (WDR / Frank Dicks)
What’s next in part two?
On Sunday, December 6th, 8:15 pm, the action changes to Munich and the surrounding area. Nevertheless, the story remains as if it were cast from a single source. And that, although part two was directed by Pia Strietmann, who was also responsible for the Munich episode “Unclear Situation” in January 2020. The critically acclaimed crime thriller was inspired by the attack in the 2016 Olympic shopping center.
Commissioner Peter Faber (Jörg Hartmann) seeks contact with Juliane Modica (Antje Traue), whose restaurant is being watched by the police. (WDR / Frank Dicks)
Those who hope for a little more humor than in the grim and tragic part one will at least partially get their money’s worth in the second film. Responsible for this is a visit by the Dortmund amok commissioner Faber to the Bavarian metropolis and his rumbling dealings with the age-wise, South German-relaxed colleagues Batic and Leitmeyr. One can look forward to one or the other – actually furious – dialogue!