Two December Deaths

Yesterday, one of my favourite German actors, Walter Giller, died aged 84.

I first encountered Walter Giller in the TV comedy show Locker vom Hocker in the late 1970s. Later I saw the young Walter Giller in many a harmless comedy or romance from the 1950s. He also starred in one of my favourite German films of all time, Rosen für den Staatsanwalt (Roses for the Prosecutor) from 1959. And unlike the various romantic comedies, Rosen für den Staatsanwalt was nightmare fodder at the age of 13 (a particularly lurid one it was, too, about being chased by the machine gun wielding father of a classmate who just happened to be a prosecutor) and a hard hitting satire at the age of 20. Besides, it’s just a wonderful film at any age.

Walter Giller was happily married for more than fifty years to another star of German postwar cinema, Nadja Tiller. Separately, they appeared in two of the finest German films of the 1950s, namely in Rosen für den Staatsanwalt (Walter Giller) and Das Mädchen Rosemarie (Nadja Tiller). If you only wanted to watch two German films in your life, these two would be excellent choices. In later years, they usually appeared together. Their last film was Dinosaurier (Dinosaurs) from 2009, a neat comedy about senior citizens stealing back the money they were scammed out of by a greedy banker which stars several stars of German postwar cinema.

Only a week or so ago, I read an article about Walter Giller and Nadja Tiller in one of my Mom’s gossip magazines. The article was about the failing health of Nadja Tiller, but in the end he was the one who died first.

At the supermarket today, I actually considered buying a tin of Scho-Ka-Kola, the chocolate that initiates the events in Rosen für den Staatsanwalt, in honour of Walter Giller.
But I don’t like Scho-Ka-Kola, so in rememberance of Walter Giller, here is the opening of Rosen für den Staatsanwalt (Roses for the Prosecutor) from 1959.

There has also been another death today, that has gained more international attention, but means less to me personally: British writer and critic Christopher Hitchens died aged 62 of complications of oesophagal cancer.

Pre-internet, public intellectuals were usually only known in their own country, so I didn’t know of Hitchens until I got on the internet. I think I first came across Christopher Hitchens shortly after September 11, 2001, when he added to the cacophony of anti-muslim and pro-war voices at the time, which did not exactly leave a good first impression, though he did seem more articulate than the usual anti-muslim screacher at the time. He sounded so American that I was surprised to find he was actually British. In later years, I mainly knew him as a very outspoken atheist in the Richard Dawkins vein, which meant that he got plenty of arseholish comments once he got cancer.

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