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PRODUCTION / FUNDING Estonia / Latvia / Germany

Elmo Nüganen now filming medieval crime thriller Melchior the Apothecary


- The Estonian director's new project, the first instalment of a trilogy, is an Estonian-Latvian-German co-production

Elmo Nüganen now filming medieval crime thriller Melchior the Apothecary
Märten Metsaviir on the set of Melchior the Apothecary (© Robert Lang)

Elmo Nüganen is currently filming Melchior the Apothecary, a medieval crime thriller, in Estonia and Latvia. The film will be part of a trilogy which will include Melchior the Apothecary: the Ghost and Melchior the Apothecary: The Executioner’s Daughter. The Jõhvi-born director is best known for his extensive theatrical work and his previous two features, namely 1944 [+see also:
film profile
(2015) and Names Engraved in Marble (2002).

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The script, penned by Olle Mirme, revolves around Melchior Wakenstede (played by Märten Metsaviir), a clever and curious apothecary who, in addition to healing the sick, solves murders that shake the town. In a medieval world where people look for signs of God or the Devil in everything, Melchior’s detective work appears to be truly magical – it’s even believed that he can speak with the dead. Melchior’s actual “secret weapon” is his knack for noticing traitorous details and his ability to understand the darkest desires of the human soul. He knows, better than anyone else, that sin is always waiting at the door and temptation can poison even the most noble of intentions. Alongside Metsaviir, the role of Dorn is played by Alo Kõrve and that of Keterlyn by Maarja Johanna Mägi. Meanwhile, the technical crew includes Mihkel Soe as the director of photography, Matis Mäesalu as the production designer and Marko Piirsoo as the editor.

Speaking about the project, the creative team explained: “Our murder stories unfold in a world where there is no presumption of innocence and no contribution to the positive rehabilitation of a criminal. Instead, people believe in confessions obtained by torture and in the sharp sword of the executioner. Our protagonist, Melchior, is like a bridge between the world of that time and that of today. Although he perceives himself as a ‘medieval man,’ he is also characterised by a desire for knowledge and the ability to doubt any deeply rooted dogma. In addition to a fascinating crime story, we offer the viewers an opportunity to take a look at everyday life 600 years ago. Medieval Tallinn is a flourishing port city of the mighty Hanseatic League – the last outpost of Europe before Russia. Its population consists of Germans, Estonians, Swedes and Finns. What did the houses and streets of a Nordic town look like at that time, what were the people’s interests, dreams and perceptions? Of course, we don’t know exactly that either, but with the help of historians we can imagine it. And it’s so exciting!”

Melchior the Apothecary is being produced by Kristian Taska for Taska Film (Estonia), Esko Rips for Nafta Films (Estonia), Tanel Tatter and Veiko Esken for Apollo Film Productions (Estonia), Armin Karu for HansaFilm (Estonia), Jānis Kalējs for Film Angels Productions (Latvia) and Philipp Kreuzer for Maze Pictures (Germany). The project received backing from the Estonian Film Institute, the Estonian Cultural Endowment, the Viru Film Fund, the Saarte Fund, the National Film Centre of Latvia, the Riga Film Fund, Elisa and Kanal2. German outfit ZDF Enterprises is in charge of its sales. The release of the first chapter of the trilogy is planned for October 2021, whilst the second is scheduled for February 2022 and the third for October 2022.

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