Murnau’s LegacyDetlef Bernd Blettenberg
Köln: DuMont, 2010
German-born Victor Voss, who struggles along as a tour guide in Ghana, sets out to Ho, a city in the south eastern Ghana, with one of his clients who passes himself off as Albin Grau. The pale and strange looking Grau reveals very little of himself and the exact reasons for their journey are also unknown to Voss. But one morning Grau is suddenly found dead in his hotel room and so Victor becomes more and more – initially unknowingly – involved in the dangerous search for Murnau’s lost film Tabu (“Taboo”). The hunt for the film claims several victims and when eventually even Voss’ mother is brutally murdered, the tour guide himself sets out in search of the murderer. This takes him on a journey between Germany and Ghana, between superstition and religion, and between politics and cinematic history.
Murnau’s film title Tabu (“Taboo”) gives direction to the novel and becomes the story’s leitmotiv, for again and again taboos are being broken and barriers are transcended. Especially Voss’ personal family history suddenly gains centre stage, precarious details are revealed and eventually become the reason for Voss to repeatedly put his life in danger.