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Child I Never Was, The

Director: Kai S. Pieck

Germany| 2004. Colour. English subtitles. Dolby digital stereo. 83 min.


Between 1962 and 1966, four schoolboys were abused, tortured and killed in Germany’s Ruhr District. Their tormentor, Jurgen Bartsch, was fifteen at the time of his first crime and sixteen when he was caught. His mesmerising confession, which frames this creepy but responsible true-crime re-enactment, forms the heart of filmmaker Kai S. Pieck’s journey into the dark reaches of a troubled mind. The background details of Bartsch’s teenage life are duly sketched—cold and severe adoptive parents, terror-filled years at a Catholic boarding school, the discovery of his homosexuality—but they are not used as pat explanations. Ultimately, in fact, it is the outward normality of Bartsch’s everyday life that underscores the horror of his deeds.

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