Herbert Lichtenfeld

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Herbert Lichtenfeld (16 June 1927 in Leipzig – 11 December 2001 in Hamburg) was one of the most successful television screenplay writers in Germany. He wrote over 300 film scripts. Many of his scripts were successful in Germany.


After graduating, Lichtenfeld moved into the Federal Republic, and there worked as a reporter on several newspapers. In the 1960s he became the television correspondent for Hörzu magazine. At this time he started to write radio plays and books. From 1968 he worked full-time as a screenplay writer. His first television film Deutschlandreise (German Journey) (1970, co-production between NDR og NRK) was co-written with Adolf Grimme-Preis.

A little later he began a partnership with the then still unknown director Wolfgang Petersen. Together they developed a series of detective TV movies called Kriminalreihe (Crime Scene). These achieved ratings of over seventy per cent. The high point of this series was School Leaving Certificate (1974) with Nastassja Kinski and Christian Quadflieg, about a relationship between a teacher and a pupil.

While Wolfgang Petersen moved to the cinema and today works successfully in Hollywood, Lichtenfeld remained a writer for television. Besides writing further Kriminalreihe scripts he wrote for other crime film series such as Der Alte (The old man).

Also outside of the crime film genre he wrote numerous books, radio plays, television films and television series. Lichtenfeld's film scripts were always complex, with very precise dialogue, often not without a shot of irony.

The Black Forest Clinic[edit]

Lichtenfeld's greatest success was The Black Forest Clinic (Die Schwarzwaldklinik). Lichtenfeld is often called the inventor of The Black Forest Clinic. But the idea to create a series in a hospital in the Black Forest was conceived by producer Wolfgang Rademann, who gave the screenplay writing job to Lichtenfeld. The series, featuring the white-coated Professor Brinkmann, attracted audiences of 25 million.

Lichtenfeld wrote all the scripts for The Black Forest Clinic, as well as his own series Der Landarzt (The Country Doctor), centring on physician Dr. Matthiesen in the fictitious small town of Deekelsen in Schleswig-Holstein. Lichtenfeld wrote all the episodes until 1997.

In the early 1990s Lichtfeld was one of the most sought after directors on German television. Among other series he wrote Das Traumschiff (The Dream Ship), and Hotel Paradies (1990), Unsere Hagenbecks (1991), Immer wieder Sonntag (1993-1995), and several successful television films such as Vater wider Willen (Father Against Will)" (1995). Lichtenfeld's final film, Jugendsünde (Youth Sin) appeared in 2000.