István Szábo impressively stages the rise and fall of the self-proclaimed psychic Erik Jan Hanussen in his film “Hanussen“. Klaus Maria Brandauer shines in the leading role alongside Erland Josephson, Ildikó Bánsági, Walter Schmidinger.


The platoon leader Klaus Schneider is wounded in the First World War and admitted to a military hospital. The doctor there, Dr. Bettelheim, treats Schneider’s severe head injury and finds out that Schneider has clairvoyant abilities. After the war, Schneider meets his former superior, Captain Nowotny, again. Nowotny provided entertainment for the soldiers during the war by running a traveling theater at the front. He now took up with Schneider and wants to make him famous. He suggests him to change his name, because people can’t do anything with Klaus Schneider. His name is changed to Jan Erik Hanussen and the new Hanussen attaches importance to his Danish descent! Nowotny turns Hanussen into a vaudeville star.

He attracted great attention when he predicted the sinking of a cruise ship. Hanussen was arrested and charged with imposture. Since he could not be proven guilty of the charges, he was acquitted. He moves to Berlin with Nowotny and his girlfriend Wally. There he moves in the circles of the upper ten thousand. Although Hanussen is Jewish, he nevertheless cozies up to the National Socialists. In these circles, people like to associate with him; his Jewish ancestry is not known at first.

Hanussen has become rich in the meantime. He is quite generous in social circles and supports the Nazis in the election campaign. He predicts the election victory of Adolf Hitler and claims that he will become the new Chancellor of the Reich. Hanussen was to be proved right. But was it a prediction, or was it simply coincidence? 1933, the Nazis come to power. Hanussen is by now firmly entrenched in the leadership of the SA. He probably learned from this source that the Nazis were planning to set fire to the Reichstag. Hanussen makes this public as well. A few days later, the Reichstag burns. His friends Nowotny and Wally are horrified. Hanussen had always been careful never to express himself politically in public.

But Hanussen is now the big star and is celebrated by the tabloid press. For the SA leaders, however, he is now a traitor and is arrested. It also became known that Hanussen was a Jew. Many Germans had taken Hanussen for a National Socialist and suddenly he was an enemy of the people. The SA henchmen murdered him in the night from March 24 to 25, 1933.

Production History

The film is a Hungarian-Austrian-German co-production. From Germany, the film was financed by Artur Brauner‘s CCC-Filmkunst and ZDF. The plot largely corresponds to the historical facts, but the person of Jan Erik Hanussen is portrayed here much more positively than he was in reality. Above all, Klaus Maria Brandauer provides this positive person with his portrayal. Hanussen was in reality a crook, swindler and as he was called at the time, a cutthroat. He cheated countless people out of their money. He was murdered in reality because of an SA internal intrigue, in which he himself was only marginally involved. The Encyclopedia of International Film says: “A debatable contribution to the important subject of the power situations of the 20th century.”

Title: Hanussen

Original title: Profeta

Director: István Szábo

Assistant directors: Ivan Artner, Krisztina Goda

Script: Péter Dobai, Paul Hengge, Gabriella Prekop

Actors: Klaus Maria Brandauer, Erland Josephson, Ildikó Bánsági, Walter Schmidinger, Gabriela Kownacka, Károly Eperjes, Grażyna Szapołowska, Collette Pilz-Warren, György Cserhalm, Ewa Blaszczyk, Adrianna Biedrzynska, Michal Bajor, Péter Andorai

Autobiographical source: Erik Jan Hanussen

Production: Artur Brauner, Judit Sugár

Production management: Lajos Óvári, Judit Lökös

Music: Zdenko Tamássy, György Vukán

Editing: Zsuzsa Csákány, Brigitta Kajdácsi, Bettina Rekuc, Éva Szentandrasi

Camera: Lajos Koltai

Sound: János Csáki, György Fék, Antal Szabó

Set: József Romvári, Gyula Tóth

Costumes: Nelly Vágó


Production companies: Central Cinema Company Film (CCC), Hungarofilm, Mafilm

Production Year: 1988

Genres: Drama, History film

Countries: Hungary, Germany

Languages: Hungarian, German

Locations: Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic

Length: 140 min

FSK: 16

Aspect ratio: 16:9 – 1.66:1

Sound Mix: Mono

Resolution: Full HD (new 4K scan)

Film label: U8 Films Berlin

Theatrical Release: 13th October 1988

Mediabook (Blu-Ray+DVD): 25th November 2022

About the historical figure Jan Erik Hanussen

Herschel Chajm Steinschneider, which was his real name, was born on June 2, 1889 in Vienna and grew up in very poor circumstances. He began his working years as a society reporter in Vienna. He very quickly became criminal in his job. He blackmailed well-heeled people by threatening to publish a scandalous story in the tabloids and made himself well paid for these threats. He exposed a “psychic” by publishing his tricks in the press as well. Later he used these tricks himself. In 1928, he was indicted in Leitmeritz (Sudetenland) for a hundred counts of fraud. He was acquitted after more than two years. The reason given by the court was that only a feeble-minded person would believe a fortune teller. He soon worked at the circus as an acrobat and magician, or even as a vaudeville artist.

Later, he engaged in occultism as well as fortune-telling and performed fakir tricks. From 1930 Hanussen joined the National Socialists. He was especially popular among the SA leadership. He financed the “nice life” of the SA superiors by lending money. One of his biggest debtors was a certain Count Helldorf, at that time a high officer of the SA. He probably gave the order to kill Hanussen to get rid of his high debts to Hanussen. The murder itself was carried out by the SA henchmen Karl Ernst, Wilhelm Ohst, Kurt Egger and Rudolf Steinle. This is historically attested. Steinle later declared in an interrogation by the Gestapo that he had fired the fatal shots at Hanussen in the night of March 24-25, 1933.

About Klaus Maria Brandauer

His real name is Klaus Georg Steng and he was born on June 22, 1943 in Bad Aussee in Styria. He later adopted his mother’s first and maiden name, Maria Brandauer, as his stage name. Brandauer first lived with his grandparents in Altaussee and later with his parents in Grenzach-Wyhlen, a German border town with Switzerland. After graduating from high school, he studied music and performing arts in Stuttgart. In 1963 he made his debut at the Landestheater in Tübingen in a play by William Shakespeare, Measure for Measure. He then went to Vienna and performed at the Theater in der Josefstadt. In 1970 he became a permanent ensemble member of the Vienna Burgtheater. Brandauer was and is a theater actor. For television he very often played in theater recordings or corresponding television adaptations.

However, he also appeared from time to time in individual episodes of various well-known television series. Also for cinema, his roles were mostly set on film biographies of famous people. They determine most of his film work. Brandauer became known as a film actor through the 1981 film “Mephisto” directed by István Szábo. He also starred in two other films by the director, “Oberst Redl” in 1985 and “Hanussen” in 1988. In 1983, Brandauer starred as the villain Maximilian Largo in the James Bond film “Sag niemals nie.” Brandauer received an Oscar nomination for his role in “Jenseits von Afrika“. In 1989, Klaus Maria Brandauer occupied the lead role as Danton in one of the most monumental, expensive and longest films in European film history, “The French Revolution.” The nearly six-hour film gobbled up more than $50 million in production costs. In the further course of his film career, Brandauer again portrayed great personalities. For example, “Rembrandt,” Crown Prince Rudolph, Wilhelm Reich and the failed Hitler assassin Georg Elser.

Awards (selection)

1985 Film Ribbon in Gold for the title role in “Colonel Redl
1986 Golden Globe and Oscar nomination for the best supporting role in “Out of Africa”
2000 Golden Globe nomination for the best supporting role in “Rising Star
2006  European Cultural Award for Dramatic Art
2006 Prize for acting at the Festival of German Film
2010 Platinum Romy for his life’s work
2014 Peace Prize of the German Film as an honorary award
Multiple winner of the Bambi

In the film biography of the colored U.S. actress Dorothy Dandridge, “Rising Star,” Brandauer played U.S. film director Otto Preminger. In the 2000s, Brandauer devoted himself more to theater again. He also taught as a professor at the Max Reinhardt Seminar in Vienna. In 1962 he married his childhood sweetheart Karin Müller. The marriage lasted until her death after cancer in 1992, and they had a son, Christian. In 2007 Brandauer married his second wife Natalie Krenn. From this marriage comes son Ferdinand. Klaus Maria Brandauer now lives in his birthplace Altaussee in Styria.

Filmography (excerpt)

1981 Mephisto
1983 Never Say Never Again | James Bond – Sag niemals nie
1985 Colonel Redl | Oberst Redl

The Lightship | Das Feuerschiff

Out of Africa | Jenseits von Afrika

1986 Streets of Gold
1988 Brennendes Geheimnis


1989 Burning Secret | Das Spinnennetz

La Révolution française | Die Französische Revolution

1990 The Russia House | Das Russland-Haus
1991 White Fang | Wolfsblut
1994 Mario and the Magician | Mario und der Zauberer
1999 Rising Star


2002 Everyman’s Feast | Jedermanns Fest

Between Strangers | Zwischen Fremden

2006 Kronprinz Rudolfs letzte Liebe | (lit.) Crown Prince Rudolf’s last love 
2009 Tetro
2011 Manipulation
2012 The Strange Case of Wilhelm Reich | Der Fall Wilhelm Reich
2013 Die Auslöschung | (lit.) The extinction
2020 Final Report | Abschlussbericht 
2021 Maestro

About Erland Josephson

Erland Josephson was born in Stockholm on June 15, 1923. He gained international fame as an actor in most of Ingmar Bergman’s films. Josephson was of Jewish descent and was a grandson of the Swedish painter Ernst Josephson. He began his career as a theater actor at the Student Theater in Stockholm. From 1945 he acted at the theater in Helsingborg. Ingmar Bergman brought him to film as early as 1946. He played a small role in the film “It’s Raining on Our Love.” From 1949 Josephson played at the theater in Gothenburg.

In the late 1950s, he appeared mainly in motion pictures, especially under director Bergman. Josephson also made a name for himself as a writer. He wrote volumes of poetry, novels, screenplays and plays. In 1978, he was offered the leading role in the film “Jaws ,” which would certainly have earned him a lot of money. He turned it down. His comment: “I prefer intellectual battles with Liv Ullmann to battles with sharks.” He continued to act in films by Bergman, his last being “Sarabande” in 2003. Then he fell ill with Parkinson’s disease, which made it impossible for him to continue working on films. He died as a result of the disease on February 25, 2012 in a Stockholm nursing home.

Filmography (excerpt)

1946 It Rains on Our Love | Es regnet auf unsere Liebe
1958 Brink of Life | Nahe dem Leben

The Magician | Das Gesicht

1968 Hour of the Wolf | Die Stunde des Wolfes

The Girls | Das Mädchen

1969 The Passion of Anna | Passion
1972 Cries and Whispers | Schreie und Flüstern
1973 Scenes from a Marriage| | Szenen einer Ehe
1976 Face to Face | Von Angesicht zu Angesicht
1978 Autumn Sonata | Herbstsonate
1979 The First Polka | Die erste Polka
1981 Montenegro | Die Ballade von Lucy Jordan
1982 Fanny and Alexander 
1983 Nostalghia

Bella Donna

After the Rehearsal | Nach der Probe

1986 The Sacrifice | Opfer

Der Schimmelreiter | (lit.) The Rider of the White Horse 

1988 Hanussen

The Unbearable Lightness of Being | Die unerträgliche Leichtigkeit des Seins

1991 Meeting Venus | Zauber der Venus
1995 Ulysses’ Gaze | Der Blick des Odysseus
1997 In the Presence of a Clown | Dabei: Ein Clown
2003 The Good Pope: Pope John XXIII | Johannes der XXIII – Für eine Welt im Frieden


About Kárily Eperjes

Kárily Eperjes was born on February 17, 1954 in Hegykö (Hungary). Actually, he was supposed to become a Catholic priest, but he decided to become an actor. He attended an acting school in Budapest and after graduating he acted at the Budapest National Theater from 1980. The director Peter Fábry brought him to the film. In 1982 he played his first role in the crime film “Without a Trace”. Under director István Szabó he played in great films like “Hanussen“, “Oberst Redl” and “Abschlussbericht” both alongside Klaus Maria Brandauer. For his role in the film “Eldorado” he was nominated for the European Film Award as best leading actor in 1989.

Filmography (excerpt)

Ohne Spur | (lit.) Without a Trace
1985 Colonel Redl | Oberst Redl
1988 Hanussen
1989 Eldorado
1990 Good Evening, Mr. Wallenberg | Guten Abend, Herr Wallenberg
2002 The Bridgeman | Im Schatten der Brücke
2012 The Door | Hinter der Tür
2020 Final Report | Abschlussbericht

About Ildikó Bánsági

Ildikó Bánsági was born in Budapest on October 19, 1947. Even before she graduated from the Theatre and Film Academy, she was in front of the camera. In the 1970s she was a popular film star in Hungary. She became internationally known for her roles in István Szabó‘s films “Mephisto” and “Hanussen” alongside Klaus Maria Brandauer. She also appeared in other films directed by István Szabó, who was instrumental in her film career to date.

Filmography (excerpt)

1971 Sindbad
1977 Budapest Tales | Budapester Legende
1980 Confidence | Zimmer ohne Ausgang


1983 Flucht in den Tod | (lit.) Escape to Death
1988 Hanussen
1991 Meeting Venus | Zauber der Venus
1992 Donauwalzer | (lit( Danube Waltz
2002 Ten Minutes Older
2006 Children of Glory

About Walter Schmidinger

Walter Schmidinger was born on April 28, 1933 in Linz, Austria. He completed a commercial apprenticeship and began acting training at the Max Reinhardt Seminar in Vienna in 1951. In 1954, he received a long-term engagement at the Bühnen der Stadt Bonn. He remained there for 15 years. Further theater stations were Munich and Berlin. From 1970 Schmidinger also worked for television. He appeared from time to time in individual episodes of the television series “Tatort“, “Der Alte” or “Derrick“.

He was rarely seen in feature films. His first appearance in a feature film was in 1973 in “The Pedestrian” directed by Maximilian Schell. He also played mostly larger supporting roles in films by Ingmar Bergman, Peter Schamoni, Peter Zadek, Otto Schenk and István Szabó. Walter Schmidinger was a very spirited actor. When he had a hang-up on a stage in Schweinfurt, he sometimes smashed the stage decoration out of sheer anger at himself. The audience thought this was part of the play and had a great time. Walter Schmidinger died in Berlin on September 28, 2013.

Filmography (excerpt)

1973 The Pedestrian | Der Fußgänger
1975 Ice Age | Eiszeit
1980 From the Life of the Marionettes | Aus dem Leben der Marionetten
1985 Spiel im Schloss (lit. Game in the Castle)
1986 Boundaries of Time: Caspar David Friedrich | Caspar David Friedrich – Grenzen der Zeit
1988 Hanussen
1998 Opera Ball | Opernball
2006 Requiem

Set Pictures

Hanussen | Trailer [2022] ( German) ᴴᴰ


“A debatable contribution to the important subject of the power situations of our century.”(Lexikon des Internationalen Films)

The third collaboration between cinematographer Koltai, director Szabó and actor Brandauer condenses “Hanussen” into a cloying colportage consisting of nothing but sharp snapshots that together make up a big lie, a single conundrum whose key has been lost in the coffee houses of this world.” (hardsensations.com)

“In director István Szabó’s 1988 historical drama Hanussen, Klaus Maria Brandauer shines again as Austrian soldier Klaus Schneider, who gains his second sight after being shot in the head during World War I. The third installment of Szabó’s trilogy about German fascism is impressive.” (derekwinnert.com)

“Hanussen may not be Szabo and Brandauer’s finest moment, that would be the incredible Colonel Redl, but it’s still a fascinating story and an intense performance worth seeing.” (bonjourtristesse.net)

“Szabo also makes the character of Hanussen a powerful symbol of the historical changes Germany went through in the period between the two world wars. Hanussen is an absolutely fascinating film.” (moriareviews.com)

Available formats and features

Limited Mediabook (Blu-Ray + DVD):

Unabridged theatrical version re-scanned for the first time in 4K and restored in full HD.

Aspect ratio Blu-Ray: WS 1.85:1 / 1080p 24; Aspect ratio DVD: WS 1.85:1 (anamorphic) | Total running time Blu-Ray: 113 min; Total running time DVD: 109 min

Sound Format Blu-Ray: German DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 (mono); Sound Format DVD: German DD 2.0 (mono)

Bonus material: Hungarian original trailer, German trailer, artwork gallery, Mediabook with 16 page book part with many pictures and information

FSK 16 | FSK sticker removable


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