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Literature / Der Richter und sein Henker

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"Es war nur Zufall. (It was just chance.)"

Der Richter und sein Henker (The Judge and his Hangman/Executioner) is a 1950 novel by Swiss author Friedrich Dürrenmatt. It sees the Swiss police force investigating the murder of Schmied, one of their officers.

Bärlach, a veteran policeman assigned to the case, believes he knows who did it, but chooses to keep his suspicions to himself until he is absolutely certain. Tschanz, a younger policeman working alongside him, is investigating a man by the name of Gastmann, and all signs seem to indicate his guilt. Tschanz, however, seems a little too certain, and may have ulterior motives for investigating him...


Der Richter und sein Henker contains examples of:

  • Bilingual Bonus: The fact that Tschanz killed Schmied isn't explicitly stated right away, but if you happen to know English, then it is hinted at, as it is said that he was killed by "Zufall" (Chance).
  • Dub Name Change: The English version of the film is called "End of the Road".
  • Driven to Suicide: After Tschanz suffers his Meaningless Villain Victory, he commits suicide at a train crossing by letting a train hit his car with him inside.
  • Gambit Roulette: Most of what Bärlach does relies on chance, which is one of the main themes of the book.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Tschanz's motive for killing Schmied.
  • Incurable Cough of Death: Bärlach suffers from this.
  • Lost in Translation: The aforementioned Billingual Bonus becomes somewhat more obvious in the English translation.
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  • Manipulative Bastard: One possible interpretation of Bärlach.
  • Male Frontal Nudity: Tschanz gets a brief few seconds of it in The Movie.
  • Meaningless Villain Victory: Tschanz gets away with murder, but Bärlach blackmails him into leaving the police force, preventing him from enjoying his ill-gotten gains.
  • Modesty Bedsheet: Tschanz gets one in the film, in the form of some clothes he's holding to his groin. At least until he gets up and throws them away.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Gastmann
  • You No Take Candle: Any of the French-speakers trying and failing to speak German. It's comprehensible, but they've apparently never heard of conjugated verbs.

Alternative Title(s): The Judge And His Hangman


Example of: