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Menu Total

GER 1986, 81 min

Meat, Your Parents: A morbidly wicked parade of ghosts of the past, packed with black humour!


Jolly life on the pick-nick meadow in Mühlheim, Ruhr. The parents have fumbled out their old Nazi uniforms. It adds even more fun to the polonaise. Mama gives the starting signal for an extraordinary military parade. Her son Joe gets waked up in the middle of the night. But will he understand what they are planning to do with him? Will he be able to resist the brutal fight of the systems? Will the sperm exchange work out? Will Joe eat the raw human brain? Joe seems lost. His way leads into an abandoned shaft of the Rosendelle mine, where there is a test laboratory. While outside the parents' steps die away, Joe refuses ingestion, is operated on, but can still escape. The situation is picking up speed ...


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Language: German, Subtitles: English, Danish, French, Italian, Dutch, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Swedish, Spanis

Press reviews

His best film! (epd Film)

Post-post-modernist; touches of pre-determined expressionist light dark but yet (not) abstract, though Fischinger cropped up earlier in a short called TUNGUSKA – equally for the creation of New Taboos that cannibalises a very fertile imagination. Viewer as eater of images that breathe intermittent passion (certainly) for the cinema. Seventies mistake is to be able to see everything; stock too sensitive, no mysteries, no gaps or spaces to doodle your way out. Solution is to stretch grain and yes, again, keep it breathing (see it to believe it) AND remarkably humorous. People populate what otherwise might abstract and take off. Marginal and outside avant-gardes though conscious of tradition and preoccupation of former image thieves. Steal anything, re-produce and deal another hand with rules changing with the wind – oh! so freely. Definitely NOT cold and probably, Christoph (Schlingensief) says, BEYOND most post-isms here today. Hang up the old celluloid meat and chew the cinephile’s heart out. Positively irresistible with Forum workers rooting at the slide lines. (Don Ranvaud, Recipe for a total Menu, Filmfest Journal, 1986)

Awards and Festivals

- Berlinale Forum 1986

Additional Texts

Interview with Christoph Schlingensief on MENU TOTAL
(Indiskret! 06.05.1986)

INDISKRET! talked to Christoph Schlingensief about MENU TOTAL, about film-making in Germany, about plans for the future and personal views.

For those who don't know you, please tell us a bit about your career.

Born 1960 in Oberhausen, in the age of 14 founded a film club and shot super 8-films, after highschool I went to Munich and worked for Franz Seitz as second assistant camera on “Doktor Faustus”. Later also as an assistant producer and second unit camera. Then I made industrial documentaries. Around the age of 22 I started out things here in the Ruhr area. With the money I had earned in Munich I started to make my first 16mm-films. One short was baught by the Goethe-Institute, and so again I had a bit of money, and at the end of 1983 I could shoot TUNGUSKA, in Rauen stone pit in Mülheim. This again was baught by television, and so I had some money to shoot MENU TOTAL. In the meantime I worked again as an operator or sound assistant every now and then. After MENU TOTAL we already shot another movie, which will only be finished in Juni.

Do you see yourself as a director in the classical sense or as a film-maker?

I don't like the expression ‘film-maker’ much, because it is always to do with slapping one’s own back. I prefer a division of duties. The duties from financing a film up to shooting it are so diverse that I prefer a structure like in American cinema, where usually duties are devided among specialists. I think it’s important for German cinema to get back on this track. The last 10 years were about auteur cinema, telling the directors’ little aches and pains, big martyr storys, how much they suffered for millions of people and that they walk from the southern part of the country to Paris without shoes. All of this has become boring and superfluent in a way. People tend to fit me in this mould, too, but it’s a misunderstanding, because MENU TOTAL is a cynical comedy. Some perceive of the film as being nightmarish, there is some puking and also a raping scene, but strictly speaking, it is so full on, that it can't be serious.

Do you see yourself in the tradition of a certain cinema?

You have to know some about what’s important in film history, in my case, I’m still far from knowing everything. Coming close to an idol works out. But I haven’t fully managed to attain the level of a certain director. Once I like something on someone, then something else on someone else. For example I like Spielberg, because I find it great, how he manages to push his films, and in the end I’m a part of it, together with 800 people, it’s a rollercoaster ride. His timing ist fantastic. But on the other hand, I also like films by Resnais, oder by Buñuel, all things that work in a more difficil way. It is very difficult to find idols in Germany. This is also a problem of the people who start shooting films now, that they have to work from a vacuum.

Will you move towards a more classical story-telling cinema?

I think that I make uncertain movies, because at the moment I don’t know a viewpoint which seems convincing. Already my movies are rather different from each other. The only unifying element is a religious one, not in the sense of praying and mumbling, but there is something unseizable that unites the people. The second element is having fun in unimportant things, which take themselves very serious. In Berlin for example my use of Nazi-uniforms was discussed a lot. But there is nothing that holds me back. I think I can freely grab something from the shelves, in order to give an absurd use to absurd symbols and instruments of a miserable time. I’m rather not in a provocative stance here, it is more puppet theatre, what I’m showing, parlour games.

Could you please describe MENU TOTAL from your point of view?

MENU TOTAL is a film which for many viewers has a dreamlike structure. They think that they had some of the things that appear here already in their own heads. I think it will be a lot of fun, when the film is shown in Mülheim. Starting with the amazing music of Helge, Dieter Stein and Peter Eisold, then the actors, Volker, Helge and Reinhard, who are well known here. It wil give a good kick to the film. And as I said, the film has bad taste, but not in a way that makes you suffer. And Alfred Edel, the speech bubble of the New German Cinema of the last years, can finally throw up everything that has seeped down in him. 
The film has no psychology, it is still told in an experimenal way, but more feature film than TUNGUSKA. All the characters are constantly busy getting the best light. The only one caught between two stools is Joe (Helge), who ends up killing everyone, but enters a new system that suppresses him. MENU TOTAL ist actually a criminal comedy, which works in a funny way. You don’t know who's the killer and the solution is not quite what you expect.


Director, Screenplay and Director of Photography
Christoph Schlingensief
Helge Schneider, Volker Bertzky, Alfred Edel, Dietrich Kuhlbrodt, Reinald Schnell, Anna Fechter, Joe Bausch, Annette Bleckmann, Thirza Bruncken, Wolfgang Schulte
Assistant Camera
Ralf Malwitz
Eva Will
Andreas Wölki
Helge Schneider
Costume Design
Katrin Köster
Set Decorator
Eckhard Kuchenbecker
Norbert Schliewe
Gerhard Fechter
Production Manager
Wolfgang Schulte
Christoph Schlingensief
Produced by
DEM Film, Hymen II
20.2.1986, Berlinale Forum


Restored film, 4K scan, original theatrical version
„Bye Bye“ – short film by Christoph Schlingensief (1985, 6 min – English subtitles), Interview with Christoph Schlingensief (2002, 16 min), Interview with Helge Schneider (2020, 8 min), Interview with Dietrich Kuhlbrodt (2015, 16 min), „Menu Total – Klappenfilm“ (1986, 2 min), trailer
English, Danish, French, Italian, Dutch, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish subtitles
Country Code
77 min (25 fps) + 48 min Extras
Aspect Ratio
Sound Format
DD 2.0
Digipack (Set Content: 1), 28-page booklet with film poster, original documents, interview, biography and photos
From 16 years

Distribution Details

Screening Format
DCP (4K, 24 fps, 5.1)
Blu-ray Disc
35mm (Blow Up with English subtitles, Mono, contact Deutsche Kinemathek)
Aspect Ratio
35mm, 1:1,66
English (DCP, BD)
Promotion Material
A1 poster (rent only)
License Area
From 16 years