At the start of “Blood & Gold” director Peter Thorwarth speaks in an interview about his personal game changer Netflix.
On May 26, “Blood & Gold” will be the next Netflix film by German director Peter Thorwarth (51) – after the extremely successful vampire horror “Blood Red Sky” from 2021.
In the highly entertaining genre film “Blood & Gold” in the last days of World War II, a deserted German soldier takes on a marauding SS troop who are chasing a missing pot of gold. In an interview with the news agency spot on news, director Thorwarth reports on the long production history of his work, the impressive stunt work of his actors and the SS men who went mad in the final phase of the Second World War.
From vampires in WWII’s “Blood Red Sky” to Nazis who look like zombies but aren’t. How did you come up with the idea for the material?
Peter Thorwarth: The idea didn’t come from me, but from screenwriter Stefan Barth. He already had it in 2006. When he gave me the first book to read, I was immediately hooked. After the revision with a historian, we already had a fairly large cast together in 2007, but the funding was lacking. It was probably not yet the time for that in Germany.
Now, 17 years later, Netflix arrived, a real game changer. It was similar with “Blood Red Sky”. That was also a story that I ran around with for 15 years and that nobody wanted to fund. The streamers, especially Netflix, have changed a lot.
I had a tough phase as a filmmaker in between. It wasn’t that I couldn’t make films, but the films that were offered to me just weren’t my cup of tea.
It was an opportunity not only for me, but also for the actors and actresses and all the people who work on the team. We were given the opportunity to suddenly be seen and noticed internationally.
There is a lot of humor in “Blood & Gold”. In view of the setting in the final phase of the Second World War, did you also have concerns about treating the story too disrespectfully?
Thorwarth: To be honest, not. Of course we didn’t want to make fun of everything. There is also a flashback in the story that shows the expulsion and murder of a Jewish family. We drew that in a different tone.
I didn’t want to make a historical film either. Ultimately, it’s a genre number, a spaghetti western. But the film also has an attitude, and that’s important to me.
I never wanted to make a mainstream film that would get as many people on board as possible. It’s just not my thing.
To what extent was it also your motivation to show this completely crazy part of the Nazi ideology in “Blood & Gold”?
Thorwarth: A German fighting against Germans – this idea grabbed me immediately. In most films about the Second World War, Allies have to deal with Germans. A German soldier who was at the front and then took on a whole squad of renegade SS soldiers afterwards, I found that exciting.
Alexander Scheer plays the SS-Obersturmbannfuhrer von Starnfeld, who is completely insane with the way he talks and presents himself. He actually still has this idea of the Alpine fortress, while around him the morale of the troops is completely falling apart. I think the last days of World War II were at some point a legal vacuum. Everyone was closest to themselves.
There are also strong female characters in “Blood & Gold”. How did you conceive it, what was important to you about your female characters and Elsa in particular?
Thorwarth: It starts with the fact that right at the beginning – without spoiling too much now – Heinrich’s life is saved by Elsa. As a character, she is defensive and involved in the fights. It’s not just the Wehrmacht soldier who takes up arms. She can too.
Elsa actress Marie Hacke is said to have done all her stunts herself?
Thorwarth: Everyone did their own stunts, including Florian Schmidtke and even Simon Rupp, who plays Paule. There’s a scene where Simon gets pushed under water. Originally we wanted to double him there, but I also wanted to see his face. That wasn’t a problem at all for Simon. Incidentally, he is also a member of the German swimming relay team for the Special Olympics, which are taking place in Berlin this year. So he’s not afraid of contact with water, that’s what I want to say (laughs).
Robert Maaser comes from floor exercise and is 14-time wheel gymnastics world champion. Robert loves action films and is both an actor and a stuntman. He infected everyone else with his energy and brought along a fight designer with whom we developed the fight scenes five weeks before shooting began. That paid off.
For the action scenes and especially the grand finale, you should have relied heavily on hand-made effects. What was the background? Why do you prefer that over digital tricks?
Thorwarth: I have nothing against digital effects if they are used in such a way that they are not conspicuous as such. But when you have the opportunity to work with actors who do the stunts themselves, that’s great. Then you can rotate a lot in-camera. I think you can feel it when something like this is handmade. That has a different effect.
I am an author and journalist who has worked in the entertainment industry for over a decade. I currently work as a news editor at a major news website, and my focus is on covering the latest trends in entertainment. I also write occasional pieces for other outlets, and have authored two books about the entertainment industry.