One of the best films to come out of the New German Cinema, Reinhard Hauff's Messer Im Kopf, known in the U.S. as Knife in the Head, has not achieved the same level of international recognition as those of Herzog, Wenders, Fassbinder, Schlondorff, and von Trotta. In many ways it is a gender reversal of Schlondorff's The Lost Honour of Katharina Blum. Schlondorff and Hauff share similar concerns towards political and social commentary and, accordingly, they were partners in their own film company, Bioskop. In Knife in the Head, Bruno Ganz stars as Hoffmann a research scientist who, one evening, goes off in a huff to the headquarters of a radical group to confront his estranged wife. When he gets to the center it is being besieged by riot police. The agitated Hoffmann enters the fray anyway and, in a moment that we do not see, he is injured and left comatose.
The remainder of the film finds Hoffmann awakening and learning to function and think all over again. He has cloudy memories of the incident and finds himself at the center of a struggle between the leftist radicals and fascist-like police. Ganz is a marvel in the role and he truly is one of the finest actors in any language. Here, he must display the full range of emotions as he goes through the process of regaining his faculties while resisting the efforts of others to make him into a pawn for their own causes. Angela Winkler (star of Katharina Blum and The Tin Drum) provides good support as Hoffmann's wife. The great, sinister electronic score is by Can keyboardist Irmin Schmidt.
There is a German-language DVD of Knife in the Head, but it appears to be minus English subtitles, or any subtitles of any kind. So those who wish they could understand Deutsch, but do not, are out of luck. New Yorker Films distributed the film in the U.S. along with several other Hauff titles, but only Knife in the Head appeared on video in the U.S.
Here's a trailer for the German speakers: