The Story of the Chopper

A "Tatort" Sequel and its Consequences

It has been 30 years since the series "Tatort" began in Ludwigshafen with Ulrike Folkerts as police inspector Lena Odenthal.  The German channel Southwest Television (SWR) is celebrating this anniversary with a special production, a continuation of the 1991 legendary sequel "Death in the Chopper" („Tod im Häcksler“).  Back then the third sequel with Lena Odenthal, alias Ulrike Folkerts, caused quite an uproar in the Palatinate.  "Death in the Chopper" related the story of a village, whose population agreed to concede their land to a dam that would submerge their homes in return for riches, but one inhabitant refuses to go along with it.  The young director Nico Hofmann (today CEO of the production company UFA) intended to shoot an "ironic fairy tale", but the people in West-Palatinate where the film was shot felt themselves disparaged by the portrayal of a sluggish and brutal village community.  Politicians from all parties, trade unionists, policemen, the housewives association - all complained bitterly to the director of Südwestfunk (now SWR).  Their protest even reached the halls of the Rheinland-Palatinate parliament and Ulrike Folkerts had to go hiking in the Palatinate as a sign of reconciliation.  28 years later SWR is returning to the West-Palatinate and cleverly weaves the story further in a new sequel.  What has become of Lena Odenthal, what about the village policeman Stefan Tries, played then and now by Ben Becker, with whom Lena once had a relationship?  Naturally SWR wanted to shoot the film on the same site, but the town council of the village Rathskirchen refused.  The wounds of the past there still haven't healed.

On the occasion of the re-broadcast of "Death in the Chopper" and the sequel to it, the documentary "The Story of the Chopper" examines the wounds that were inflicted back then and are still smarting today.  Were people there over-sensitive or was the television crew too insensitive?  Interviews with the actors, the director, the scriptwriter and of course with the inhabitants who felt affected back then, piece together a part of German television history with a shot of media criticism thrown in.

First broadcast

November 2nd 2019, 9.35pm, SWR Fernsehen


November 4, 2020, 11.30pm, SWR TV

Produced by


A film by

Sigrid Faltin



Running time

30 min.


cinematographer  Christian Zecha

sound  Michael Kirn

editing  Petra Hölge

producer  Jochen Dickbertel

commisioning editor  Bernd Seidl

Online here

„We produce documentary films - it's real life that interests us.“
Sigrid Faltin, white pepper films


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