BIG MÄCK: GANGSTERS AND GOLD on Netflix is a new documentary from Germany (org. title: Big Mäck – Gangster und Gold). It’s true crime and one crazy story that plays out over the 90-minute runtime. Read our Big Mäck: Gangsters and Gold review here!
BIG MÄCK: GANGSTERS AND GOLD is a new Netflix documentary that features true crime in a crazy way. No, the documentary isn’t crazy, but the stories told are wild. It’s a rollercoaster of emotions from “Obviously, he’s guilty!” to “Give the man a break” and finally “He’s so good at hustling, it’s actually impressive”.
The final third of this Netflix documentary sheds new light on the events from earlier, which tips a lot on its head. Not in the forced or “tricky” red herring sense. Instead, it’s just adding layers to the man that is Donald Stellwag.
Continue reading our Big Mäck: Gangsters and Gold review below. Premiering on Netflix on March 30, 2023.
Very tall and strikingly obese
I was not familiar with the story of how Donald Stellwag was falsely accused and imprisoned for a bank robbery, he did not commit. He always denied that he had anything to do with it, but his appearance sure did work against him.
Since I did not know the details of this documentary (I try to avoid too many details prior to watching), I found myself thinking that it was obviously Donald in all the surveillance pictures. Also, there were eyewitnesses who felt sure that he was the bank robber they has been face-to-face with.
Donald Stellwag is – as one person puts it – a man who is “very tall and strikingly obese”. In other words, he stands out like a sore thumb. However, it wasn’t just his size. It’s also the face that looks so eerily similar to the person caught on camera during the robbery. I can understand why the eyewitnesses felt 95-99% certain that he was guilty.
As it turns out, it was a doppelganger of sorts, who had already committed many other robberies. Fortunately, forensic evidence evolved from 1991, when the bank robbery took place, to the early years of the new millennium, when he was acquitted. However, he had already spent almost nine years in prison. Years he can never get back.
A liar, an exaggerator, and a fraud!
As already mentioned several times, the man at the center of this true-crime documentary is Donald Stellwag. He is given the nickname “Big Mäck” while in prison. A story we won’t get to until the end of the documentary. This is the curious nature of the new Netflix documentary.
We get the story as it happened. Or rather, as Donald Steelwag would like to tell it.
After the first third of Big Mäck: Gangsters and Gold, we move into the “gangsters and gold”-part in the second third. This is when you start to get an inkling of an idea; Sure, he didn’t do what he was imprisoned for nine years for, but he is one hell of a hustler still.
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By the final third, we return to many of the facts he has stated and they are blatantly proven to be untrue. Not in any cruel or demeaning way, but rather to show the viewer that he likes to tell stories. There’s always truth to them, but they do also change every time.
As one person, who is a friend of Donald, very nonchalantly states, it’s known that he is “a liar, an exaggerator, and a fraud!”. Looking at what he has done (and been convicted of even before the robbery that he did not commit), it’s easier to see why everyone had a hard time believing he had a doppelganger.
Along with alibis – which didn’t really seem very reliable, as we learn in that final third – he had the kind of criminal history that made it difficult to believe that it wasn’t him. He was a victim of circumstance in that one instance. Apart from that, he is a very gifted salesman and a survivor in every sense of the word.
Watch Big Mäck: Gangsters and Gold on Netflix now!
The directors of this new Netflix true-crime documentary are Fabienne Hurst, Andreas Spinrath, and Facundo Scalerandi. The first two are credited as writers and there is a lot to keep track of. They did a solid job. Fabienne Hurst and Facundo Scalerandi also worked on the 2022 Netflix series King of Stonks which deals with some of the same issues.
When the 90-minute runtime was about halfway, I found myself wondering what the rest of this Netflix documentary would be about. Well, it does not slow down. It does, however, continue to add layers to the story.
The very final scene of this German documentary (org. title: Big Mäck – Gangster und Gold) is pure comedy gold. Sure, Donald Stellwag might be down (physically bedbound), but he is by no means out. Or even close to being done with his shenanigans. In a strange way, it’s very life-affirming to watch this man continue to fight – and hustle as only he can.
Big Mäck: Gangsters and Gold is out on Netflix from March 30, 2023.
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