The new miniseries “The Funeral” starts on Tuesday (January 25) at 10:50 p.m. with a double episode in the first. It is the next collaboration between the successful improv specialists around director and Grimme Prize winner Jan Georg Schütte (59) and acting star Charly Hübner (49). Most recently, her mini-series “Kranitz – Money back in case of separation” was shown. Before that, they indulged their shared passion for improvisation in “Tatort: The Team” (2020) as well as in “Forever Summer 90” (2020) and “Class Reunion” (2019).
That’s what “The Burial” is about
An unusual patchwork family comes together for the funeral of Wolff-Dieter Meurer. He was the managing director of the Meurer plumbing company and a valued member of the small community of Lassahn am Schaalsee in Mecklenburg-West Pomerania, formerly East Germany.
Wolff-Dieter Meurer was the beloved husband of Gaby Krolmann-Meurer (Catrin Striebeck, 55), who was unpopular in the village from the west. The unequal twin brothers Mario (Hübner) and Thorsten Meurer (Devid Striesow, 48) and Sabine Stenz-Meurer (Claudia Michelsen, 52) come from his first marriage to Hildegard Meurer (Christine Schorn, 77). Artist Kevin Krolmann-Meurer (Enno Trebs, born 1995) comes from his second marriage. He also had the foster daughter Anna Hell (Anja Kling, 51).
As soon as Meurer’s coffin is under the ground, all sorts of dirty secrets come to light during the funeral service and the reading of the will…
“The shoot was rock ‘n’ roll”
As with Schütte’s “Class Reunion” (2019), each of the six episodes tells the events from the point of view of a character. The actors received their role profiles in advance and then improvised the entire plot in just two days of shooting in front of more than 50 cameras running on 15 sets in parallel.
“My shoots are always a kind of trip for the actors. But the one for ‘The Funeral’ overshadowed all the others: just the size of the ensemble, the many locations that were filmed at the same time, the important stages of the story that couldn’t be missed, the action scenes that had to be built – and the enormous logistical effort with over 50 cameras, the control center with countless monitors and the entire staff,” says Schutte, explaining the general conditions of the unusual production.
During the shoot, he felt like a conductor “who rushes from concert hall to concert hall, bringing the instruments there with two or three beats and then continuing to conduct in the basement, the canteen and the auditorium,” says Schütte. “The shoot was rock ‘n’ roll and wild […] Pretty exciting, but also pretty naked and without make-up, that took a lot of courage,” confirms actress Claudia Michelsen from the other side. But the trust in Jan Georg Schütte was enormous, she adds, “and besides, we have the greatest ensemble together: everyone got involved with each other and Luzie went off,” enthuses the “Polizeiruf 110” star.
Is it worth turning on?
Yes. In terms of content, the entire range of unpleasant to unappetizing and classic family themes related to the funeral of a family head is played. Above all, it is about the legacy, old secrets and open accounts, but also about the question: Who was Wolff-Dieter Meurer really and what repressions from the Stasi was he subjected to?
Absurdly funny scenes alternate with more serious passages, so it never gets boring or silly. The improv routines once again show the finest impromptu acting skills. But it is also exciting to see how the improv newcomers do among the top stars: Claudia Michelsen performs outstandingly as the divorcing daughter of the deceased, Martin Brambach (54) as a more or less unemployed neighbor and Aleksandar Jovanovic (50) as Money collector for his boss, the Albanian Toni.
The mini-series – produced by moderator Klaas Heufer-Umlauf (38, “Check Check”), among others – starts with a double episode at 10:50 p.m. All subsequent episodes will air Tuesdays at the same time through February 22nd. All six episodes are already available in the ARD media library.