8 user 6 critic

Knife in the Head (1978)

Messer im Kopf (original title)
One night when seeking his estranged wife, Hoffmann goes to the youth center where she works. The police are there rounding up radicals who frequent the center - Hoffmann runs into the ... See full summary »


Reinhard Hauff


Peter Schneider (screenplay)
6 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Bruno Ganz ... Dr. Berthold Hoffmann
Angela Winkler ... Ann Hoffmann
Hans Christian Blech ... Anleitner
Heinz Hoenig ... Volker (as Heinz Hönig)
Hans Brenner ... Scholz
Udo Samel ... Ernst Schurig
Eike Gallwitz Eike Gallwitz ... Dr. Gröske
Carla Egerer ... Schwester Angelika
Gabriele Dossi Gabriele Dossi ... Schwester Emilie
Hans Fuchs Hans Fuchs ... Chefarzt
Gert Burkard Gert Burkard ... Institutsdirektor Ahrens (as Gerd Burkhard)
Erich Kleiber Erich Kleiber ... Pförtner Arnold
Karl-Heinz Merz Karl-Heinz Merz ... Patient (as Karl Heinz Merz)
Ursel Lessoing Ursel Lessoing ... Frau Schurig
Heinz Hürländer Heinz Hürländer ... Kommissar (as Heinz Hurlander)
Learn more

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One night when seeking his estranged wife, Hoffmann goes to the youth center where she works. The police are there rounding up radicals who frequent the center - Hoffmann runs into the building and ends up being shot in the head. He awakens with brain trauma, partially paralyzed and unable to speak. The police accuse him of stabbing an officer; the radicals herald him as an innocent victim of police brutality. During his slow recovery at the hospital, Hoffmann must piece together his life and struggle to remember the events of that night. Written by sienel

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Did You Know?


[first lines]
[V.O., Hoffmann looks out his office window]
Hoffmann: An American in my situation would start to shoot out of the window...
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User Reviews

A good portrayal of a moment in time?
6 January 2006 | by brownieboySee all my reviews

According to reports at the time, the Federal Republic of Germany (or "West Germany," as it was known then,) became somewhat of a police state in the mid-70's.

The embarrassing, massive blunder of the Munich '72 Olympics segued into the Baader-Meinhoff, and at some point the German government started using police tactics that had more to do with Orwellian practices than civil rights. This movie reflects that, and it does so while showing the arduous process experienced by its protagonist (admirably played by Bruno Ganz,) who must literally rewire his brain after the forces of the State almost kill him by mistake and then try to blame him in order to cover things up.

There must have been a measure of freedom left in W. Germany for this movie to have come out somehow. Is Ganz's recovery (from vegetable back to human being after having had his memory wiped out) an allegory of Germany itself (from Nazism to freedom and back to a police state again)? Go figure. All I know is that is movie left an indelible impression in my mind, which is saying a lot in an era when German cinematography was coming up with a gem every other month.

Seek it out.

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West Germany


German | Italian

Release Date:

27 October 1978 (West Germany) See more »

Also Known As:

El cuchillo en la cabeza See more »

Filming Locations:

Bavaria, Germany See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Color (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See full technical specs »

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