The Goalkeeper’s Fear of the Penalty

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The Goalkeeper’s Fear of the Penalty
Directed by Wim Wenders
Produced by Peter Genée
Thomas Schamoni
Written by Peter Handke
Wim Wenders
Based on The Goalie’s Anxiety at the Penalty Kick
by Peter Handke
Starring Arthur Brauss
Music by Jürgen Knieper
Cinematography Robby Müller
Editing by Peter Przygodda
Distributed by Bauer International (U.S.)
Release date(s)
  • 19 February 1972
Running time 101 min.
Country West Germany
Language German
Budget DM 620,000 (estimated)

The Goalkeeper’s Fear of the Penalty (German: Die Angst des Tormanns beim Elfmeter) is a 1972 German-language drama film directed by Wim Wenders. It is also known as The Goalie’s Anxiety at the Penalty Kick. It was adapted from the novel with the same title by Peter Handke.[1]

A goalkeeper is sent off during a game for committing a foul. He spends the night with a cinema cashier, whom he afterwards kills. Although a type of detective film, it is more slow moving and contemplative than other films of the genre. It explores the monotony of the murderer’s existence and, like many of Wenders’ films, the overwhelming cultural influence of America in post-war West Germany.

Late in the movie, the goalkeeper and a local policeman attend a football game, and witness a penalty kick. The goalkeeper describes what it is like to face a penalty: should he dive to one side, and if he does will the kicker aim for the other? It is a psychological confrontation in which each tries to outfox the other. In parallel with this, the goalkeeper, rather than go on the run, has returned to his home town and is living in plain sight. He doesn’t know if the police are looking for him in particular, and the police are not necessarily looking for someone who isn’t trying to hide. His friend, the policeman, is on the lookout for the suspect in the murder, but there are no eyewitnesses who can link the goalkeeper to his victim. He might be a suspect, but only if he acts like one.


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