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The Child I Never Was
The Child I Never Was
Actors: Tobias Schenke, Sebastian Urzendowsky, Ulrike Bliefert, Walter Gontermann, Jürgen Christoph Kamcke
Director: Kai S. Pieck
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Gay & Lesbian, Mystery & Suspense
UR     2005     1hr 26min

Between 1962 and 1966, four schoolboys were abused, tortured and killed in Germany?s Ruhr District. Their tormentor, Jürgen Bartsch, was fifteen at the time of his first crime; nineteen when he was caught. His mesmerizing ...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Tobias Schenke, Sebastian Urzendowsky, Ulrike Bliefert, Walter Gontermann, Jürgen Christoph Kamcke
Director: Kai S. Pieck
Creators: Egon Werdin, Kai S. Pieck, Ingo Ehrlich, Andrea Hanke, Bettina Scheuren, Jürgen Bartsch, Paul Moor
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Gay & Lesbian, Mystery & Suspense
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Family Life, Gay & Lesbian, Mystery & Suspense
Studio: Strand Releasing
Format: DVD - Color - Closed-captioned,Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 01/11/2005
Release Year: 2005
Run Time: 1hr 26min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 1
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Languages: German
Subtitles: English

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Movie Reviews

An Excellent Examination of the Darkness of Madness
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 01/21/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Kai S. Peck is one courageous Director! He has created a very substantial and quite disturbing film about an actual bizarre serial killer and through the statements and letters of his subject and a book by Paul Moor and his astute directing he has been able to step over the sensationalism of his subject and open the door into the mind of a very ill person.

THE CHILD I NEVER WAS (originally titled EIN LEBEN LANG KURZE HOSEN TRAGEN) is frighteningly based on fact. From 1962 through 1966 a fifteen-year-old boy named Jurgen Bartsch tortured, murdered, and then sexually molested four young German boys. This infamous serial killer is first introduced in a black and white sequence of Jurgen as a 20 year old (Tobias Schenke) in prison for his crimes. He frankly talks about his crimes, acknowledging their evil, but at the same time seeks to uncover his own motivations for having performed such deeds. Through a series of flashbacks we see Jurgen as a child and as a 15 year old (Sebastian Urgendowsky) and discover he was adopted by a couple who are bipolar parents - Gertrud (Ulrike Bliefert) and Gerhard (Walter Gontermann) Bartsch. Their parenting is brutally bounced from feigned kindness to flailing mistreatments. They do not allow Jurgen to have friends, to socialize, to have any interests. When Jurgen begins to get in touch with his sexuality, they foster care him and seek professional advice for his sickness of homosexuality.

Young Jurgen is unable to relate to anyone and he yearns for friends. He discovers a cave where he can escape form his ugly world and fantasize about many things, including sexual fantasies about boys 'ages 8 through 14'. Gradually he gives in to his compulsion to seduce boys into his cave where he tortures them, eviscerates them, and once they are dead he has sexual acting out with them. At one point he seeks a priest's (Jürgen Christoph Kamcke) confession booth seeking absolution, but the priest only tells him that he must confess to the police and devote his life to charity. Eventually during his fourth episode of his serial madness he leaves his victim bound, disturbed that this boy actually seems to return Jurgen's bizarre sexual advances, and when he returns to the cave the boy has escaped. Jurgen is captured and imprisoned.

The way in which the film resolves is actually touching in that from surprise confessions we grow to understand these serial murders on a certain level. To reveal these facts would hamper the suspense of the film. Suffice it to say that here is a sophisticated film unafraid to enter the darkest regions of a young man's mind and in doing so heightens our awareness of the fine line between response to personal abuse and madness. The cast is extraordinarily fine. Grady Harp, January 2005"
Interesting, albeit emotionally detached film about German c
Get What We Give | Georgia | 09/29/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)

"Jurgen Bartsch is the subject of this film about a teen aged boy who murdered other boys during the early to mid 1960's in Germany.

The film is told through a series of confessions (ostensibly to an unseen journalist) as an adult and flashbacks to the actual events in Bartsch's life. The subject matter is grim but the delivery in the film doesn't really capture the true horror that must have befell these child victims.

I don't think that we should be subjected to the sheer brutality or the sexual aspects of Bartsch's crimes, but since Bartsch confessed to the crimes, it would be well within reason to expect the filmmakers to take a more harsh stance against his crimes. Instead the delivery seems almost to attempt to justify his crimes as a result of his upbringing. Because of this, the viewer isn't able to truly empathize with any of the victims, but rather with Bartsch.

The young Bartsch is played quite well by a talented actor, but the older Bartsch as he confesses seems a bit uncommitted to his role. One could infer that the actor/filmmaker's intent is to show a young man who is indifferent to his crimes; instead the portrayal comes off a bit muddled.

If you are a fan of true crime, then you will enjoy this film for its factual aspects. However, it isn't as emotionally charged as it could have been.
Failed to deliver
Jonathan Appleseed | 04/08/2007
(2 out of 5 stars)

"Given the shocking subject matter, and other reviews that promised a revealing look into the mind of Jürgen Bartsch, the teenaged serial child molester and killer (what an ignominious "title" that is!), I expected something different than this saccharin, boiled down and emotionless film. Told in two intertwining parts, one a grizzled black and white police confessional of the killer while in jail, and the other a recreation of the killer's young life at fifteen and some of his acts, the movie fails to present a coherent narrative. Instead, it's more of a hodgepodge of collected remembrances.

Tobias Schenk, who plays the older Jürgen, tells of things he can't remember from when he was younger, and says flatly that they are best left unremembered. What this means, we may guess. Physical abuse? Sexual abuse? Probably yes on both counts, but when the fifteen-year-old Jürgen portrayed by Sebastian Urzendowsky, doesn't exhibit any emotions - not even a hint of repressed emotions - we're left with a Jürgen that we must believe in simply because we are told to believe it. That wasn't good enough for me.

There were several fascinating aspects of the oddity that was Jürgen Bartsch. His mother bathed him, even at fifteen. She chose his playmates, which meant that he had virtually none as she felt everyone was too good for him. At one point, he helped his father in the butcher shop, but didn't find it interesting because, as the older Jürgen admits, he had no sexual attraction to animals. He wanted to remain a boy forever. When seeking out his victims he looked for boys between the ages of eight and fourteen, and when he was seventeen, he thought ill enough of his desires to engage female prostitutes. Killing was necessary to have sex. In the most telling scene of the recreated narrative thread, he has one friend, Georg, who he was madly in love with, "play dead". While Georg plays dead, Jürgen undresses him. Their relationship continues, but we're not shown much of it. I found that exclusion very strange, as it seemed to be a relationship that helped him reach some understandings about himself. When he was released from prison after a surprisingly short sentence (six or ten years...I don't recall exactly, but either is insane), he married a nurse (care to get inside her head?) to help integrate himself back into society. At the age of twenty-nine, he requested castration, and died during the procedure due to an anesthetic error.

There's more - but to relay it to you would be telling you, and that's what this movie did. It was full of telling, and not nearly enough dramatizing. When the movie ended I found my head full of facts, but I didn't find myself chilled to the bone. And if I just finished watching a movie where a fifteen year old boy killed a younger boy, cut open his gut, pulled the intestines out, and continued dismembering him for an hour and then, when the boy was beyond dead and dismembered, pleasured himself - I think I should feel chilled.