No sensitivity to the “police call”: Can it still be a bit of trauma?

Trauma is one of the favorite topics of crime screenwriters: whether it’s early childhood or post-traumatic, if it’s going to be dramatic and there’s no other motive to be found, the stress disorder will do the trick. Or not?

It’s a voice from his childhood that has Adam Dahl (Eloi Christ) slamming his life hammer. Over and over again, until the skull of the stranger who has just boarded the regional train is nothing but mush. Inspector Brasch (Claudia Michelsen) racks her brains for almost 90 minutes in the last “police call” before the summer break about the motive of the actually peaceful and a bit shy young man, who has no idea himself what actually got into him.


No way out: Adam Dahl (Eloi Christ).

(Photo: MDR/filmpool fiction/Conny Klein)

Only when it finally comes out that Dahl had to witness the death of his mother as a child, who worked as a prostitute and succumbed to the brutal sex practices of a client, does everything seem to make sense: the little boy hid under the bed at the time and only heard the voice of the man man who killed his mother. When the stranger comes into Dahl’s compartment in the film present, phoning loudly, Dahl’s subconscious is triggered, the repressed trauma breaks out, the young man strikes – and the “police call” has gained a motif that is as unusual as it is difficult to understand.

Fatal for such a sensitive topic

So everything is fine in the “black box”? Unfortunately not, because the film simply wants too much: “When I read the script for the first time, I might have discovered one or two traumatized people, and if you then work through it more deeply and intensively, you can see that the number of traumatized people in this plot increases significantly,” says Wolfgang Jordan, chief physician at the Magdeburg Clinic for Psychiatry and Psychotherapy. The professor adds diplomatically: “From the consultant’s point of view, one or the other may be rare, but it’s possible.”

One could also say: the film is hopelessly overloaded, director Ute Wieland exhausts the multiple traumata of the protagonists, which are evidently already laid out in the screenplay, to the last. Not only are Brasch and Adam Dahl, who are badly marked by their previous case, constantly on the verge of implosion, the supposed parents of the young man are also acting out their own trauma in an almost absurd way. That would be okay if the acting was right, but it just doesn’t in “Black Box”: Except for Michelsen, almost all the protagonists are a bit too much, overacting is considered good form in this “police call”. And that is fatal for a topic that should be approached sensitively and with the necessary delicacy.

Because despite the entertainment format, the Sunday evening thrillers in the first series always have a role model character – and such a flat depiction of traumatized people and their actions only makes life for those affected in the real world even more difficult than it already is. A look at the Dortmund colleagues and the character development of a commissioner Faber (Jörg Hartmann) shows how to do it better and still entertain the viewers brilliantly.