Bad mood in "crime scene": Grumpers are not haters

Bad mood in the “crime scene”
Grumpers aren’t haters

By Julian Vetten

There are several regions in Germany that look with a certain pride at their bad-tempered inhabitants: Berliners are rude, Franconians are grumpy. And Bayern have their grumpers – just not as many of them.

Johannes Bonifaz Hackl (Burghart Klaußner) is a Bavarian straight out of a picture book: he wears a mule hat on his head, and leather knee breeches on his legs. And not just for folkloric bragging at the Oktoberfest, but in everyday life. If it weren’t for Hackl’s huge anger at modern times, which he no longer understands for a long time, the man would be the dream of every tourism department. But because they exist and Hackl gives them free rein in violent outbursts, the grumbler by birth becomes the main suspect in a murder case.

At least the man from the Munich “crime scene” of the same name is innocent of the murder. But until the viewers know that, the 90-minute crime thriller draws the exciting portrait of a person who, while watching, always oscillates between sympathy and disgust. “It’s hard to characterize him, it’s easier to play him,” Hackl actor Burghart Klaußner tries to grasp his role. “And maybe it’s also the better way to understand him: his loneliness, his anger and vulnerability, his grim humor and his Bavarian anarchy – hats off to Hackl!”

“Grant has many facets”

The journalist Thomas Grasberger has written an entire book about the dazzling ambivalence that Klaußner describes and which is taken to extremes in “Hackl”: “Grant – The Blues of the South” is the title. “If you take the meaning of grumbler narrowly, then it’s this grumpy old man who has something to complain about and scolds himself,” Grasberger said a few years ago in an interview with the “Süddeutsche Zeitung”. “But if you take the term further, it’s not just about a bad mood. The Grant is sometimes sad and gloomy, sometimes funny, mocking and snarling, sometimes rebellious, angry and boastful. Grant has many facets.”

And many role models: comedian Karl Valentin was a gifted grumper, just like Meister Eder actor Gustl Bayrhammer or, more contemporary, cabaret artist Gerhard Polt. But it’s also 80 years old now: is the grumper, this archetypal Bavarian phenotype (“It’s called Bavarian,” Grasberger would probably interject scoldingly) a dying specimen?

“It seems to me that the boundaries between ‘grantlers’ and ‘haters’ are becoming increasingly fluid and it seems more and more difficult to control this current,” says Dagmar Gabler, who wrote the screenplay for the current “Tatort”. In her eyes, however, there is a big difference: the grumbler is “also generated by impertinence and paternalism and has its justification. It also has entertainment value – Bavaria is also proud of its grumblers for good reason.

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