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The Incredible True Story Behind the Disney+/Hulu Series 'Sam A Saxon'

In the first scene of Sam — A Saxon, we see Samuel Meffie (Malick Bauer) running at full speed through the streets of Dresden. Sam stood out. And not just because he’s (literally) chasing the ambulance. But because this is 1500. We are in Saxony, deep into communist East Germany. Sam is a black man six feet tall.

He dashes past a parked police car. The police sirens sounded. Sam stopped. He raised his hands. Police officers in green and khaki uniforms of the Deutsche Volkspolizei (German People’s Police) got out of the car. Things are looking bad. Then, Sam turned and started explaining. His girlfriend was in that ambulance, about to give birth to their son. “They’re not going to let them ride together,” he said. He then quotes Kierkegaard to the effect that only he who hears the mother’s cry during childbirth “knows the true meaning of life.”

The police were impressed. He gave Sam a ride to the hospital. On the way, he made an offer to him: “Ever thought about joining the police?”

Malick Bauer in ‘Sam A Saxon’ Disney+/Hulu
Author Samuel Meffire, whose real-life story was the basis of Disney+ series 'Sam A Saxon'

“I know people have a hard time understanding why as GDR I became a policeman,” the real Samuel Meffie said over tea in a Cologne café. “But for me the police represented order, justice and security. These were the things that were missing in my life at the time.”

When Meffie finally joined the Dresden police force At that time, it was 1989, after the fall of the Berlin Wall but before the reunification of Germany. He was one of the last officers to be trained under the East German system. It was also the first ever black policeman in East Germany.

Sam — A Saxon is Meffie’s story, or at least the 7 hour TV version. The series, the first German-language original for Disney+, bows on Wednesday, April on Hulu in the US and Disney+ worldwide.

Those expecting a feel-good underdog story (a Disney feature) will be in for a shock. Kierkegaard’s famous quote is a hint. The philosopher known as the father of existentialism viewed the world as inevitable suffering. Samuel Meffie has his share too. If he starts 1989 as a (literal) voice for multiculturalism – After Germany is reunited, he will be imprisoned as a violent criminal and an internationally wanted man.

Samuel’s father, who was born in Cameron and came to GDR as a student, died on the day his son was born, in mysterious, possibly criminal causes (Maffey suspects He was killed by his poison) colleagues). His mother was forced to raise two children alone, abusing him both physically and physiologically. In his autobiography I, a Saxon, Murphy wrote: “This is hell, a miniature one-word title Sam.

Author Samuel Meffire, whose real-life story was the basis of Disney+ series 'Sam A Saxon'

by Samuel Mayfair, His true story was the basis for the Disney+ series “Sam – The Saxon” Carsten -Koall_picture-alliance-via-Getty-Images-

“The number one lesson I learned in life was ‘You never I’ll be safe’,” Murphy said slowly, in a deep, soft voice. “I think it was my childhood, the chaos and trauma of that time, that shaped my image of the police as the only thing that brought order and helped. People in need. “

in Eastern Germany 1500, chaos was the order of the day after the fall of the Berlin Wall and before German reunification. The collapse of the East German state left a power vacuum that criminal gangs and far-right thugs were eager to fill.

“ Westerners can hardly imagine what it was like, but neo-Nazis were marching in the streets of Dresden, hundreds of people,” said Murphy. But within the police force, we are a brotherhood. I never run from a fight. That earned me respect. If ever there was a time, for me it was a place of unity, a place of camaraderie. “

In 1500, Murphy Posing for a photo for the anti-racism movement. His face, which says “Saxon,” is posted, feet high, on billboards around Dresden The movement touched a nerve. At a time when images of right-wing thugs and attacks on asylum seekers in East Germany filled the news, Samuel Meffie spoke for a nation eager to show the world progressive, open and multicultural The country of images offers a different narrative. He became a media star, touring talk shows and trying to use his deep, soft voice — with a touch of the Saxon accent of his birthplace — to explain the despondency on the streets of the East. , anger and outrage. Germany.

In his book, Murphy describes that period as a media “hunt”. He writes that the sudden rush of celebrity and public attention was “Cocaine of the soul”: intoxicating and poisonous.

The cover of the English version of Samuel Mayfair’s autobiography. Ulstein
Book cover for the English edition of Samuel Meffire's autobiography.

“‘A Saxon campaign with the right idea at the right time and place ,” Murphy said, “but they picked the wrong guy. I carry a backpack full of unresolved issues and trauma. “

Didn’t end well. Frustrated with police and national politics, Murphy quits 1990. He founded his own security company and imagined himself to be the “Robin Hood” of the city’s unarmed people. Instead, facing money problems, he became Dresden’s most notorious Debt collector and enforcer of one of the gangsters of .Meffie’s fall, described in the last few episodes of Sam — A Saxon, he will be arrested for robbery and sentenced to 9+ years. He served 7 years and was put on leave for good conduct.

“I first heard Samuel’s story from Tyron Ricketts. This is at1990. We had him play the first black detective in the East German program [Leipzig Murders ], which was a big deal at the time”, says producer and partner Jörg Winger Sam — creator of A Saxon (with Ricketts). “Since then, we’ve tried to market the story as a series. But we keep getting the same response: “I personally like the story, but I don’t think the [German] audience is ready for it.”

On a channel ready to try Sam’s Before the story, German television experienced fifteen years of revolution and a new social reckoning.

“Partly because of the TV industry, the influence of Netflix, Amazon and other streaming media has opened up different and more diverse stories, stories from more marginalized communities,” Winger said. “But I think there has also been a real change in the way we talk about racism, institutional racism in Germany over the last few years.”

Samuel Meffire (left) with Malik, who played him in “Sam A Saxon” Bauer
Hannes-P.-Albert_picture-alliance-via-Getty-ImagesAuthor Samuel Meffire, whose real-life story was the basis of Disney+ series 'Sam A Saxon'

Following the success of Deutschland’48 (2006), the German spy series created by Wenger with his wife Anne Wenger and produced by the German studio UFA Fiction aired continuously Three seasons (such as Germany’75 and Deutschland ’87) On Hulu in the US, Winger is back with Sam’s story. He and Ricketts are setting up the show as the first project for Big Window, the new label Winger has launched with Fremantle-based company UFA Fiction to produce an ambitious international series.

This time, people are interested. The project eventually landed on Disney, which commissioned it as its first German-language original. According to Winger, the studio has “diversity in its corporate DNA” and is a perfect fit for Sam — A Saxon. The show itself is keen to be diverse in front of the camera — starring Afro-German actors Malik Bauer, Ricketts, Paula Essam and others — as well as behind the scenes, with an Austrian-Nigerian scriptwriter Malina Nwabuonwor (Para on TNT – We Are Kings) and Toks Körner (Borga), East German-born Afro-German actor and writer .

“The important thing is to get things done, not just in reference to the experience of being black in Germany, but in reference to the experience of living in East Germany at the time,” Wenger pointed out.

The result, in Sam — A Saxon, is unlike almost anything on German TV. Part coming-of-age story, part crime thriller, part prison drama, the show’s tone and genre shift from episode to episode, held together by Bauer’s stunning performance — “He’s like me The son who never had,” joked Melfair — and the trauma of the arc Sam.

“In the end, I think, it all goes back to the fact that I lost my father, never got to know him, and left a gap, a gap that I’ve been trying to fill my whole life,” Murphy said. He said it was only after years of treatment – in and out of prison – and with the support of his wife and family that he returned to health.

Murphy admits that seeing his life replayed and fictionalized on screen is a strange experience, but feels that all the creative license of the series, “captures the Feelings, emotional truths” of his life.

“Of course, money also plays a role,” he laughs. “Thanks to this show, I have paid off my debt. I never thought it would be possible.”

Samuel Meffire lives with his wife and their two daughters In Bonn, works as a writer and coach for public sector workers. Sam – The Saxon will premiere on Hulu and Disney+ in April .

‘Sam – a Saxon’

Samuel Meffire (left) with Malik Bauer, who plays him in 'Sam A Saxon'



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