© Wild Bunch/Central

Die Pfefferkörner und der Schatz der Tiefsee (The Peppercorns and the Secret of the Deep Sea)
Germany 2020

Opening 30 Sep 2021

Directed by: Christian Theede
Writing credits: Dirk Ahner
Principal actors: Emilia Flint, Caspar Fischer-Ortmann, Leander Pütz, Charlotte Martz, Linda Madita

Young friends Alice (Emilia Flint) and Tarun (Caspar Fischer-Ortmann) are vacationing on the coast of Northern Ireland with Tarun’s mother Jaswinder (Myriam Abbas), who is researching the effects of plastic garbage in the sea. A masked man steals her confidential documents and escapes along the cliffs, followed by Alice and Tarun. Thus, we are in action just two minutes into the film. They return to Hamburg where Jaswinder works at the Oceanographic Institute located in the Hamburg Speicherstadt. Her opponent is rich businessman, Robert Fleckmann (Heino Ferch). He makes money processing garbage and says, “The stuff of the future is garbage.” In other words, the more garbage, the better for him. Shortly, Tarun’s mother is kidnapped from a boat where they were staying. Now Tarun is called upon to apply his talents as a detective. Alice joins him, as do Johnny (Leander Putz) and his younger sister Clarissa (Charlotte Martz). After some disagreements, young Hanna (Linda Madita) also joins the group, bringing them up to their usual five-member team of Pfefferkörner detectives. Their investigation takes them to a lighthouse, to a cave, and back to the sea. Can Jaswinder’s colleagues Oliver and Patrizia help? What do they know?

The action is suspenseful, supported by tense music, as they land in dangerous situations. Journalist Brite Schmeis said in Die Welt newspaper that this is “James Bond for Children.” Here, as far as computers and mobile phones are concerned, they are far ahead of James Bond, especially Clarissa. Her talents in reading, understanding, and copying online information are way ahead of anything Bond might achieve. Too young for a driver’s license? No problem. On bicycles they are always ahead of the game. Watch Johnny race his bike across the top of containers. The adults are unhelpful, except for Gertrud Silber (Anna Böttcher) who supposedly is also a detective, but actually more of a clown and quite hilarious. Filmed in the Baltic Sea, the North Sea, Rügen, Hamburg, Ireland, Bremerhafen, and Amrum, there are beautiful scenes of water, as well as fish in aquariums. Save the ocean from the influence of excessive plastic is the message. Environment is definitely a topic for young viewers; it’s their future. The Pfefferkörner started as a successful TV series the end of December 1999. This is the second full-length film, following Die Pfefferkörner und der Fluch des Schwarzen Königs from 2017. This wonderful Hamburg film about friendship is perfect for the whole family, eight years and older. (Becky Tan)

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