The Robber Hotzenplotz
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The Robber Hotzenplotz is a character created by German author Otfried Preußler for his children's book series of the same name. There are three tales about Hotzenplotz:
- The Robber Hotzenplotz (1962)
- News from the Robber Hotzenplotz (1969)
- Hotzenplotz 3 (1973)
All three books were illustrated by artist Josef Tripp, as were most of Preußler's works. These books were translated into at least 34 languages (e.g.: French: Le Brigand Briquambroque, Italian: Il Brigante Pennastorta, Spanish: El bandido Saltodemata, Turkish: Haydut Haytazot). Moreover, more than six million books were sold.
At the beginning of the 1960s Ottfried Preußler worked unsuccessfully on the initial approaches on Krabat. Due to the disappointment, he took the decision to change and to write something amusing. He decided to write about a clown tale (Kasper), which included all the typical characters of a clown story: Kasperl (the clown), Seppel, Grandmother, the robber, the police officer (who has the Bavarian name Alois Dimpfelmoser, wearing a spiked helmet), the wizard (Petrosilius Zwackelmann) and others. Preußler named the robber after a city in Silesia, which is called Hotzenplotz in German and Osoblaha in Czech. This name impressed Preußler very much during his childhood, so that he still remembered it. The book was published in 1962.
The first tale of the robber Hotzenplotz was very popular among the readers. Originally Preußler only planned to write a single book about the robber Hotzenplotz, but after receiving requests from children with detailed suggestions for further books about the robber, he decided to write another book about Hotzenplotz, seven years after publishing the first book.
Due to the fact that the dog Wasti, which was accidentally transformed into a crocodile by the widow Schlotterbeck and which was not transformed back to its originally body at the end of the second book, Preußler again received letters from readers. For this reason he wrote a further book in which he took care of not leaving an open ending. Furthermore, he explained at the end of the book that it definitely was his last clown tale.
The Robber Hotzenplotz
The smart robber Hotzenplotz attacks Kasperl's Grandmother and steals her coffee grinder, which is very valuable to her as it was a gift from Kasperl and Seppel. Moreover, the coffee grinder plays her favorite song “May Makes Everything Anew” while turning the crank. Kasperl and Seppel try to catch the robber Hotzenplotz, as they do not think that police officer Alois Dimpfelmoser is capable of catching Hotzenplotz. They buy a wooden box, which is filled with sand and has a tiny hole on the bottom which is stuffed with a small match, to find out where Hotzenplotz lives by leaving a trail of sand. After bringing the wooden box in the forest as a faked gold transport, Hotzenplotz appears immediately and takes the wooden box. At the same time, Kasperl and Seppel pull out the match and get themselves in safety. Trusting that there is gold in the wooden box, the robber brings it to his den of robbers, where he sees whats really in it. Furthermore, he discovers the track, created from the sand, which leads directly to his hidden place.
However, once Hotzenplotz discovers the trick, he spreads a second track with the remaining sand from the wooden box. As soon as Kasperl and Seppel see the second track, they decide to separate. In order to deceive Hotzenplotz, Kasperl and Seppel switch their hats. As they follow the trails separately, Hotzenplotz captures them one after the other. Kasperl begins playing the fool and constantly pronounces Hotzenplotz name wrong, so that Hotzenplotz sells him to the wizard Petrosilius Zwackelmann. In the meantime, Seppel has to work for Hotzenplotz in his den, and in a fit of cruel fun Hotzenplotz throws Kasperl's hat into the hearth fire.
Zwackelmann needs a servant who peels his potatoes, as he is not able to peel them with magic. As Kasperl continues playing the fool so that Zwackelmann gets very angry and thinks that it is a proof that Kasperl is too stupid to discover his magic secrets. In the night Kasperl tries to escape from the castle of the wizard, but during his escape he notes that is impossible to get past the ground's borders, as Zwackelmann cursed them.
When Zwackelmann visits a friend in Buxtehude one day, he leaves Kasperl in the castle. While Kasperl is alone, he suddenly hears somebody crying. Following the sounds down to the basement of the castle, Kasperl discovers a toad in a pond, which speaks human language. It turns out that it is the fairy Amaryllis, who has been transformed into a toad by Zwackelmann; she asks Kasperl to get a certain plant, the fairy herb, which can be found only at a certain place during moonlight. Furthermore, she tells him how to break the curse and to escape from the castle by leaving a part of his personal clothes in the castle. Kasperl leaves Seppel's hat and starts his journey to find the fairy herb.
In the meantime, Zwackelmann returns from Buxtehude and notices that Kasperl has disappeared. Searching the grounds, he discovers Seppel's hat. He uses a magic spell on the hat to make Kasperl appear, but instead gets the real Seppel. Since Seppel was cleaning one of Hotzenplotz boots in his hand, Zwackelmann uses it to summon Hotzenplotz and begins berating him for burning Kasperl's hat, which renders him unable to get him back. When heated words are exchanged between them, Zwackelmann transforms Hotzenplotz into a bullfinch and puts him into a cage before leaving the castle to search for Kasperl.
In the meantime, Kasperl returns to the castle with the fairy herb. As it makes him invisible, he can go into the basement without any problems. The herb transforms the toad back into the fairy, just as Zwackelmann returns and finds Kasperl in the basement vault. Shocked, Zwackelmann drops his wand, and as he lunges after it, he falls down in the pond and dies. Grateful for her rescue, Amaryllis gives Kasperl a ring with three wishes, and after Seppel and the enchanted Hotzenplotz are recovered, she destroys Zwackelmann's castle and returns to the fairy world. Kasperl and Seppel go home, using two wishes to recover Kasperl's hat and Grandmother's coffee grinder. Bringing the enchanted Hotzenplotz to Dimpfelmoser's office, they use the last wish to turn him back to human form, whereupon Hotzenplotz is arrested and (in lack of a proper prison in town) locked into the local firehouse.
News from the Robber Hotzenplotz
By pretending that he suffers an appendicitis, Hotzenplotz overpowers Dimpfelmoser, takes his uniform and successfully escapes from the fire house. Hotzenplotz plans on taking revenge on Kasperl and Seppel by blackmailing them into giving him the reward money for his capture. After donning the uniform, Hotzenplotz seeks out Grandmother (who is strongly nearsighted) and eats the dinner she prepared for Kasperl and Seppel before revealing himself, causing Grandmother to faint.
Kasperl and Seppel show up at the firehouse to look after Hotzenplotz and find Dimpfelmoser asking them for help. Initially not believing his pleas, they later discover what happened to Grandmother; they return to the fire house and release Dimpfelmoser. After donning a spare uniform, Dimpfelmoser, Kasperl and Seppel attempt to lure Hotzenplotz back into the firehouse with the help of a false treasure map. Hotzenplotz discovers the ruse and locks Kasperl, Seppel and Dimpfelmoser into the firehouse, but they free themselves by using the fire truck to break through the walls.
In the meantime, Hotzenplotz returns to Grandmother's house, kidnaps her and brings her to his hideout, where she is forced to be his housekeeper. Dimpfelmoser, Kasperl and Seppel find a letter from Hotzenplotz demanding the reward money. As per the instructions, Kasperl and Seppel are supposed to bring the money alone. In order to keep an eye on them without Hotzenplotz knowing, Dimpfelmoser consults Mrs Schlotterbeck, a local widow and fortuneteller, and uses her crystal ball to observe the transaction.
Kasperl and Seppel surrender the money, but Hotzenplotz takes them prisoner as well. In his anger, Dimpfelmoser accidentally disrupts the crystal ball, rendering it temporarily useless. In order to find Hotzenplotz's hideout, Mrs Schlotterbeck lends her dog Wasti to Dimpfelmoser. Originally a dachshund, Wasti's body was transformed into a crocodile by a botched spell by Mrs Schlotterbeck when she had once dabbled in magic. Wasti leads Dimpfelmoser to Hotzenplotz's cave, where the dog - with its rather fearsome appearance - scares Hotzenplotz into surrendering himself and his captives. After their triumphant return, Hotzenplotz is transferred to the next district capital prison, and Grandmother cooks a sauerkraut and bratwurst dinner for everybody.
Due to his good behavior Hotzenplotz is released from prison and decides to give up his job as a professional thief. He visits Kasperl's and Seppel's grandmother to apologize for his previous attacks. However, Grandmother does not trust him and locks him up in her closet. Alois Dimpfelmoser, who received a further promotion as a chief inspector in the meantime, appears and releases Hotzenplotz, as there is no proof of any attack. Furthermore, Hotzenplotz confirms his earlier release from prison by an official letter. However, Dimpfelmoser wants to keep an eye on Hotzenplotz and visits the widow Schlotterbeck together with Kasperl and Seppel to spy on Hotzenplotz with the help of her crystal ball. They observe that he disposes his gunpowder and his weapons from his den of robbers. Unfortunately, they cannot follow the complete activity, as the night begins and the crystal ball turns into darkness.
Dimpfelmoser asks the widow Schlotterbeck to observe Hotzenplotz as soon as the sun rises. Kasperl and Seppel go out to catch Hotzenplotz as they assume that he intends new crimes. On their way to the den of robbers they build a trap by binding a sand bag on a tree and stretching the end of the rope over the ground, so that the sandbag falls down, when someone touches the rope on the ground. When Seppel tries their trap, it works perfectly and the sandbag falls on his head, so that he now lies unconscious on the ground. Fortunately, Hotzenplotz arrives and helps Seppel to wake up with his snuff.
Finally, Hotzenplotz can convince Kasperl and Seppel that he wants to be an honest man by setting on fire all his complete gunpowder. After the explosion of the gunpowder, they bury all his weapons in the moor. Afterwards, the three sit together around a camp fire, enjoying a robber meal which Hotzenplotz prepared and talk about Hotzenplotz's future. Hotzenplotz does not know what he wants to do, because he did not learn anything besides robbery.
Kasperl and Seppel start their way home, when the night begins. Hotzenplotz accompanies them until the city outskirt. There, they find a “Wanted” poster of Hotzenplotz with a current date. Hotzenplotz is accused to have damaged a window from the widow Schlotterbeck's house and to have stolen the crystal ball from her. Thereupon, Kasperl and Seppel hide Hotzenplotz at Grandmother's house until they can proof that Hotzenplotz is innocent. The next day, they go to the widow Schlotterbeck to solve the case. There, they find out that Dimpfelmoser is looking for them with the help of Wasti, the long-hair dachshund, which was erroneously transformed into a crocodile by the widow Schlotterbeck.
Finally Kasperl and Seppel find the crystal ball in Wasti's dog house. Obviously, Wasti thought it was a pumpkin. In this connection, they realize why two pumpkins from Grandmother's garden are also missing. They were not stolen by Hotzenplotz, but Kasperl and Seppel gave them to Wasti. They did not know that her Grandmother counts them regularly as they are special pumpkins, which only grow with a special treatment. When Kasperl and Seppel return to Grandmother's house to release Hotzenplotz, and to proof that he is innocent, they only find a letter from Hotzenplotz, saying that he wants to go to the United States of America to become a gold digger.
Kasperl and Seppel want to find Hotzenplotz, but they need Wasti's help, so that they have to look for Dimpfelmoser first. In the meantime, Dimpfelmoser was led by Wasti to the moor, where Kasperl and Seppel buried Hotzenplotz's weapons. There Dimpfelmoser is about to sink. Fortunately, Kasperl and Seppel just arrive in the perfect time to save Dimpfelmoser. They tell him that they found out that Wasti took the crystal ball and that Hotzenplotz is innocent. After the explanation, Kasperl and Seppel send Dimpfelmoser home and start to search for Hotzenplotz with Wasti. Finally, they find Hotzenplotz in the high heath, where the fairy herb grows. They convince Hotzenplotz to stay. During their talk, Wasti takes a smell at the fairy herb and with the help of the fairy herb, it transforms to his previous body, the long-hair dachshund. Thereupon, the widow Schlotterbeck invites all to a celebration and takes a look into the crystal ball for Hotzenplotz. She foresees that he will open a tavern which is called “The Robber's Den”.
It is remarkable that in Hotzenplotz 3, Preußler turns around the pattern of the classical robber tale and introduces a subversive profile with the innocent suspect, who has to hide from the police.
In 1967 the Augsburger Puppenkiste presented the tale as a TV puppet show. In 1974 the movie The Robber Hotzenplotz was shown, directed by Gustav Ehmck and with Gert Fröbe in the titular role. In 1979 the second part was shown as a movie (News from Hotzenplotz) with a completely new crew. In 1989 the movie The Robber Hotzenplotz was remade in China, directed by Fang Run Nan in the Shanghai Film Studio. This Chinese version of the puppet movie was released with the name “The big robber” (chin. 大盗贼). In 2006 another movie of Hotzenplotz (The Robber Hotzenplotz, directed by Gernot Roll) was shown in theaters.
Puppet show productions (selection)
- De Poppenspeeler (Bühne Kurt Seiler, Hannover)
- Augsburger Puppenkiste (Bühne Walter Oehmichen, Augsburg)
- Die Hohnsteiner (Bühne Harald Schwarz, Essen)
- Figurentheater Köln (Bühne Andreas Blaschke, Köln)
- Kammerpuppenspiele (Bühne Stefan Kühnel, Bielefeld)
- Puppentheater Luna (Bühne Rudi Piesk, Hörlitz)
- The theater group Wuppertal/Wuppertaler Bühnen shows Der Räuber Hotzenplotz as a family spectacle in 2017/18 in the version of the director Jean Renshaw and Peter Wallgram.
- The composer Andreas Tarkmann arranged a child opera, which premiere was in 2009, under the responsibility of Michael Schmitz-Aufterbeck in the Theater of Aachen.
- The group Showcase Beat Le Mot invented a performance from the tale for children from 6 years. The première was in March 2007 in the Berlin Theater in Parkaue.
All books in German were published by Thienemann publishing.
- Der Räuber Hotzenplotz, ISBN 3-522-10590-7, 1962.
- Neues vom Räuber Hotzenplotz, ISBN 3-522-11520-1, 1969.
- Hotzenplotz 3, ISBN 3-522-11980-0, 1973.
- Räuber Hotzenplotz feiert Geburtstag: 50 Jahre und kein graues Haar, stern.de, July 17, 2012
- Wuppertaler Bühnen und Sinfonieorchester GmbH. "DER RÄUBER HOTZENPLOTZ" (in German). Retrieved 2017-11-06.