The unbridled greed for gold spreads like poison in the new Ludwigshafen crime thriller by the longest-serving “Tatort” detective Lena Odenthal (Ulrike Folkerts). But in the end, the heated hunt for the legendary Nibelung treasure only leaves a trail of blood. “Gold” is the name of the “crime scene” that Das Erste broadcasts on Sunday at 8:15 p.m. With Heino Ferch as the strange museum director and André Eisermann as the dazzling hotel manager, the long-running TV hit also has a strong cast in supporting roles.

Not a routine case for Chief Inspector Stern

The first seconds of the film set the tone: a statue dramatically shrouded in clouds shows how Siegfried murderer Hagen von Tronje sinks the Nibelung treasure into the Rhine. Shortly afterwards, two shots echo through the night. They kill Boris Wolter, the branch manager of a bank with a strange passion for the Middle Ages. For Odenthal and her closest colleague, Chief Inspector Johanna Stern (Lisa Bitter), it seems like a routine case. But then the inconsistencies pile up – including around Wolter’s separated wife.

But only later does it come to a showdown with Melania Wolter (Pheline Roggan), who in one scene moves through a run-down apartment with a huge sword – like a Valkyrie. Admirers of Richard Wagner get their money’s worth: “Gold” is teeming with allusions to the “Ring of the Nibelung” – I’m all about the music. “The greed for gold demands blood,” say Fred Breinersdorfer and Katja Röder, who wrote the book. “That fits the “crime scene,” we thought.” Ulrike C. Tscharre also plays multi-faceted as Susanne Bartholomae.

Strong images and a complex story

There are numerous narrative strands that this 78th Odenthal “crime scene” unrolls. He explores his themes with powerful images. A narrow-gauge tractor with a dead body rolls through a vineyard in an almost sacral manner, and gold dealer Helmuth Roth (Jo Jung) looks into the camera with dead eyes while the blood seeps into the carpet (camera: Michael Merkel). “The greed for gold costs lives, this truth connects the film with the legend,” says director Esther Wenger.

Right in the middle: Albert Dürr, played by an inspired Heino Ferch. How the shimmering head of the museum whispers “The treasure is cursed” and trudges through the vineyard in a commanding manner is more than worth seeing. “We asked Heino if he would like to play this somewhat unusual role,” say Breinersdorfer and Röder. “With Esther Wenger he formed exactly the bizarre character that we envisioned. Suspicious, clever, mysterious and dangerous.”

As hotel manager René Schalles, André Eisermann shines in competition with the gold. The actor is great cinema – still. When Eisermann talks about his job, his successes “Kaspar Hauser” and “Schlafes Bruder” are very tangible and don’t seem 30 years old. “As a former opera singer, I sing a Wagner aria out of the hotel window, which is also a bit comedic,” says Eisermann, who speaks in “Gold” with Palatinate dialect (“Look mo dohi: the police”). “It makes the character authentic, but it’s a balancing act.”

What the Nibelungen treasure is all about remains exciting until the end. Even if the story isn’t always entirely coherent and stable, the stylishly told film keeps curiosity going for long stretches. It is amusing to follow how the gold also appeals to investigator Stern. In real life, she is more interested in precious metals in sports, emphasizes actress Bitter, who once did athletics: “More than jewelry, a gold medal would make me rave.”