--> ''"[[MadnessMantra I wait, I wait, he will come, he will come.]]"''

[[caption-width-right:220:''[[AdultFear Girls Beware!]]'']]
'''Das Versprechen: Requiem auf den Kriminalroman''', better known as ''The Pledge: Requiem for the Detective Novel''', is a crime thriller written by the Swiss author and playwright [[TheVisit Friedrich Dürrenmatt]] in 1958. [[SchoolStudyMedia A very popular subject in language classes throughout the German-speaking world]].

It was based on the script for the Swiss made-for-TV movie '''Es geschah am hellichten Tag''' (''It Happened in Broad Daylight''), a cautionary tale for the public about child predators and murderers, starring [[Literature/FatherBrown Heinz Rühmann]] as the inspector and [[Film/{{Goldfinger}} Gert Fröbe]] as the killer. This film was also written by Dürrenmatt himself, but he was unhappy with the SurprisinglyHappyEnding, brought forth by ExecutiveMeddling.

So, he chose to write his own version of the story, quite a bit DarkerAndEdgier and more [[AdaptationExpansion complex]] than the film and its [[TheHollywoodFormula fairly standard plot]]. Among other things, it makes both the protagonist and antagonist more tragic, and gives the whole spectacle a BittersweetEnding, perhaps even a DownerEnding.

In return, Dürrenmatt’s book was adapted itself by Creator/SeanPenn in 2001, simply called ''The Pledge''.

Yet, both later works follow ''Tag'' in their basic plot and premise:

Somewhere in Zurich, in the heart of the Swiss Alps, an old peddler named von Gunten makes a horrifying discovery; in a forest, a school-age girl had been cut to death with a razor blade.

From a local village, von Gunten calls [[HelloAgainOfficer his old acquaintance]], Komissar Matthäi of the Canton Police, to come and investigate for himself.

The police investigator meets the murdered girl’s parents, and [[ThePromise promises them to find the killer]], delivering the story’s MacGuffin. Then he goes to the girl’s school, and finds out from a classmate that she claimed a giant had been giving her chocolate hedgehogs. He finds a picture she drew before her death, featuring herself, the giant, a car and a Capricorn.

In the meantime, the locals have decided that von Gunten himself, previously convicted for sexual offence, is in fact the killer, and try to lynch him. To save him from the [[TorchesAndPitchforks angry mob]], Matthäi arrests von Gunten and hands him over to the local police. Equally convinced of his guilt, the police conduct a [[EnhancedInterrogationTechniques 20-hour non-stop]] PerpSweating, and thus torture a confession out of him.

The case seems solved, especially when von Gunten, driven to despair by the interrogation, [[DrivenToSuicide hangs himself in his cell]]. Matthäi gets commended for his work and even the victm’s parents thank him for keeping his promise.

Matthäi himself is ordered by the confederation to travel to Amman, Jordan, to instruct the local police force. However, he gets severe doubts about von Gunten’s guilt and his colleagues’ apt and popularist judgement. Seeing how von Gunten is implicated with two further similar child murders throughout the country, the chances are high that there still is a serial killer on the loose.

Overtaken by guilt, he skips the flight to Jordan [[TurnInYourBadge and quits his job as a police investigator]], vowing to keep the promise he gave and [[VigilanteMan track down the killer on his own]]. He buys a gas station in the alps, in direct vicinity of the crime scenes, and hires Frau Heller, a former HookerWithAHeartOfGold and her little daughter Annemarie. Having taken advice from local children fishing, Matthäi wants to use Annemarie as bait to catch the killer, who seems to be fixated on killing blondes in red skirts...

!!The films and the book provide examples of the following tropes:

* AdultFear: The main reason for the entire story. ''Tag'' was a television movie made for the sole purpose of teaching parents out there about the dangers of child predators. Quite a controversial topic in the 1950s.
* AlphaBitch: Frau Schrott, the murderer’s wife, is this in varying degrees in every adaptation. She is always more or less to blame for her husband’s FreudianExcuse.
* AlternateEnding: The endings of ''Tag'' and ''The Pledge'' are substantially different.
* AntiHero: Matthäi, who first fails to stand up for von Gunten, and then uses an unsuspecting mother and her young daughter as live bait to catch a serial killer. In the DarkerAndEdgier novelisation, he also smokes and drinks excessively. He (and his colleagues) hit Annemarie out of pure frustration. [[spoiler: And in the end, he goes insane and ends up a senile old drunkard.]]
* TheBait: Annemarie, and she doesn’t even know.
* BittersweetEnding: [[spoiler:In the novelisation, through a crass coincidence, the murderer dies in a car crash while driving to the police setup. The police end up thinking Matthäi was wrong all along, Ms Heller and her daughter leave him out of pure detestation, while he persists that the murderer will still show up and spends the rest of his miserable and lonely life waiting for him. Years later, when his superior finds out he was, in fact, [[ProperlyParanoid right all along]], he tries to apologise and tell him he was right, but Matthäi is already to addled to understand.]]
--> [[spoiler:'''Matthäi:''' I wait. He will still come.]]
* ChekhovsGun: The murder victim's drawing, originally dismissed as a product of her imagination.
* ContrivedCoincidence: [[spoiler:Deliberately played straight and lampshaded by Dürrenmatt ''just'' to avoid a HappyEnding. [[WordOfGod According to him]], this was his way of showing that in real life, chances of catching such killers are lower than probable.]]
* DaChief: In all adaptations, he is Matthäi’s FriendOnTheForce after the latter quits. In the novelisation, he even is the narrator of the framework story.
* DarkerAndEdgier: The novel. The setting is grittier, all the characters are more morally ambiguous.
* {{Deconstruction}}: ''The Pledge'' is one of the crime story genre, as well as of the movie on which it was based. It [[SubvertedTrope subverts]] many of the tropes used in popular crime fiction and rides them into the ground (such as the [[spoiler:ending]]). Thus the subtitle ''Requiem for the Detective Novel''.
* DirtyCop: The police examining the murder. They want the case closed as fast as possible, and shift all the blame on the [[AcceptableTargets old peddler]].
* DownerEnding: See BittersweetEnding. [[spoiler:It is pretty much one for the protagonist, though not for the audience.]]
* EnhancedInterrogationTechniques: Yes, interrogating someone until he is psychologically unable to bear it anymore counts as torture as well.
* ExecutiveMeddling: Because the subject matter of a child murderer was already [[AdultFear pretty horrifying]] for a [[TheFifties 1950s]] audience, the ending was quite happy and positive.
* [[FakeNationality Fake Swiss]]: Germans Heinz Rühmann and Gert Fröbe, cast as the protagonist and the antagonist in ''Tag'' respectively.
* ForeignRemake: The 2001 movie plays entirely in the U.S., somewhere in the Rocky Mountains (but filmed in [[CanadaEh British Columbia]]).
* FreudianExcuse: In ''Tag'', the murderer lives under the tyranny of his wife, and vents his spleen on his victims.
* PerpSweating: Done to von Gunten, for 20 hours, to get him to confess.
* ThePromise: [[TitleDrop Duh]]. The thing that keeps plot rolling, given by Matthäi to the murdered child’s parents.
* RedHerring: It is established pretty early that von Gunten wasn’t a murderer as much as a victim of popular judgement.
* TheReveal: In the novelisation, years after the murders took place, an elderly woman receiving her holy unction summons DaChief to her death bed and confesses to him that her husband was the child murderer [[spoiler:and died in a car crash on the day of the setup, revealing to the audience and DaChief that Matthäi was right all along. Too bad it’s too late for Matthäi.]]
* SlidingScaleOfIdealismVersusCynicism & SlidingScaleOfShinyVersusGritty: ''Tag'' is very much in the middle with an upward tendency. Its novelisation and its adaptation are near the bottom. Dürrenmatt did a good job of actually letting the [[SceneryPorn Swiss Alps]], of all places, seem gritty.
* SurprisinglyHappyEnding: [[spoiler:''Tag'' ends with the killer getting shot by the police and an unsuspecting Annemarie getting entertained by Matthäi, who has taken the killer’s place as ‘the wizard’. Her mother doesn’t mind so much, either.]]
* TorchesAndPitchforks: The population of the murder victim’s hometown. In the novel, they even try to physically hinder von Gunten and the policemen escorting him from leaving by blocking the road with the local fire brigade’s engine.
* VigilanteMan: Matthäi quits the force and builds up a gas station business for the sole purpose of finding the killer.
* WhatTheHellHero: In the novelisation, and especially in the 2001 movie, the mother gives on to Matthäi when she finds out why he even engaged her in the first place; to endanger her daughter’s life by serving her as bait for a violent murderer.