Sense and nonsense of international series adaptations are often passionately discussed at industry congresses. The facts are clear: if even Netflix – long opponents of format remakes with the argument of global availability – shoots a Korean version of “Money Heist” with the “Squid Games” main actor, then industrial logic will definitely dominate Originality. The track record of a pre-existing brand and the shortening of the development time are not to be scoffed at.
And, of course, this can also create an excellent series worth seeing on its own, such as “Der Pass”, the fifth international remake of the Endemol Shine format hit “The Bridge”, proves. This becomes extra difficult when a successful US remake that outshines the original has already traveled the world. The Israeli original “Kvodo” after adapting its American version “Your Honor” is a bit like trying a German version of “Hatufim” – after “Homeland”.
So the bar is set pretty high for the German-Austrian creators of “Your Honor”, whether they want it or not. First Yoram Hattab as Judge Micha Alkoby in Israel’s Be’er Sheva, then Bryan Cranston as Judge Michael Desiato in New Orleans have created two interpretations of an iconic figure: the highly respected representative of the judiciary with a clean slate and prospects for political office, who literally becomes a criminal liar overnight to protect his son after he is responsible for a serious hit-and-run accident and fears for his life, the truth would come out – because the accident victim is the son of a mafia godfather who the judge put in prison Has.
The dramaturgical strength of the format is based on the archaic basic constellation; the main actor has to bear the abysmal fascination with the unstoppable fall. And so “Your Honor” finds its raison d’Être first and foremost in Sebastian Koch. How he creates and develops the role of Michael Jacobi, presiding judge at the Higher Regional Court of Innsbruck, is a great moment of the rousing character management. It is essentially his looks that, coupled with restrained play, indicate the growing degree of despair. Before our eyes, Koch’s Jacobi loses more and more of its initially almost exuberant composure. Externally, director David Nawrath supports the process of decay by gradually showing the judge, who at first seems to be perfectly dressed, a bit more deranged.
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Like a force of nature: Tobias Moretti plays the Tyrolean meat manufacturer and drug dealer Uli Lindner
Nawrath, who wrote the screenplays with David Marian and with Koch’s dramaturgical collaboration, provides the second major characteristic of this adaptation with the staging of the setting and atmosphere. The format has never known snow and cold. In wintry Tyrol, the mountain landscapes appear grey, gloomy and menacing. They encircle Judge Jacobi’s world more and more tightly the further he moves away from law and morality. The fact that several characters are allowed to let the Tyrolean dialect shine through, which is not necessarily a matter of course for German productions, contributes pleasantly to the local location. Above all, Tobias Moretti should be mentioned as the meat manufacturer Uli Lindner, who comes along like a force of nature and has the chummy attitude as well as the ice-cold dangerousness. Lindner, with his big business facade and the drug trade behind it, acts as the arch-rival of the Serbian mafia clan, whose leader is in prison and whose son is hit by Jacobi’s son at the beginning.
Sometimes the portrayal of the same Serbian Sailovic family is only on the average crime thriller cliché level. Without the same narrative depth as with the Jacobis and the Lindners, there is a lack of emotional counterweight here. You can feel that Nawrath tries to blur the lines between good and evil and to give every character shades of gray if possible. On the Serb side, this function is intended in particular for the clan heiress Arija, played by Paula Beer, who breaks off her legal career as a management consultant in London to take over the family business in her native Austria. However, where their radicalism and harshness come from remains psychologically unmotivated. A small minus point for an otherwise convincing thriller, which does well that it is told faster with its six episodes than the templates “Your Honor” with ten or “Kvodo” with twelve episodes.
“Your honor”, in the ARD media library. Episodes 1 to 4 will run linearly on April 9th from 8:15 p.m., episodes 5 and 6 on April 10th from 9:45 p.m. in the first.