GenreCrime, Drama, History ScreenplayThomas Brasch WriterThomas Brasch LanguageGerman
Release date23 April 1981 (1981-04-23) Initial releaseApril 23, 1981 (West Germany) CastHilmar Thate (Gustav Völpel), Katharina Thalbach (Lisa Gabler), Ulrich Wesselmann (Gladow), Ilse Pagé (Frau Gerti Völpel), Karin Baal (Frau Lucie Gladow), Peter Brombacher (Schäfer) Similar moviesMission: Impossible III, Independence Day, The Lives of Others, Snatch, The Tunnel, 3:10 to Yuma
Angels of Iron (German: Engel aus Eisen) is a 1981 German crime film directed by Thomas Brasch. It was entered into the 1981 Cannes Film Festival, but did not win at Cannes. Director Thomas Brasch won the Bavarian Film Award for Best Direction.
The black-and-white film dramatizes the true story of a Berlin gang of thieves led by juvenile Werner Gladow during the time of the Berlin Blockade 1948-49. Likening it to the Prohibition era in the United States twenty years earlier, writer-director Brasch paints a sympathetic portrait of anarchic gangsterism facilicated by the lawless political anarchy in post-war Germany up until the 1949 foundation of East and West Germany, whereas the latter brings the sinister old "forces of order" (as they are called by Gladow's partner in crime, former hangman Gustav Völpel that used to execute sentenced war criminals for the Allied military government) back to the forefront when former Nazis regain their pre-1945 positions in both new German states.
When eventually these "forces of order" come back to power at the end of the Berlin Blockade, they crack down on the anarchic Gladow gang. Gladow himself is sentenced to death for murder and executed in East Germany in 1950 at the age of 18. Although West-German ex-Nazis offer Völpel a job in the new West-German police if he'd flee into one of the city's Western zones, he prefers to stay in an East-German prison until he dies in 1959 because he feels freer in prison than inside an ordered society, just as he did already during the whole war when the Nazis incarcarated him for refusing to fight in their war.
Hilmar Thate as Gustav Völpel
Katharina Thalbach as Lisa Gabler
Ulrich Wesselmann as Gladow
Karin Baal as Frau Luzie Gladow
Ilse Pagé as Frau Gerti Völpel
Peter Brombacher as Schäfer
Klaus Pohl as Gabler
Hanns Zischler as Ridzinski (credited as Hans Zischler)