Big Mäck: Gangsters and Gold Review – a rollercoaster ride from start to finish

By Emma Vine
Published: March 31, 2023 (Last updated: December 14, 2023)


Big Mäck: Gangsters and Gold is a shocking story of mistaken identity, injustice, and mystery, that will have you hooked from start to finish.

We review the Netflix Documentary Film Big Mäck: Gangsters and Gold, released on March 30, 2023.

A crime that took place in December 1991 would forever change the life of Donald Stellwag. The German citizen, who is the focus of the Netflix Documentary Film Big Mäck: Gangsters and Gold, recounts his turbulent life and the events that led to his wrongful conviction in an armed robbery.

Big Mäck: Gangsters and Gold Review

Stellwag resembled a man who robbed a local bank and was arrested for the crime and over sixteen witnesses, including the bank teller and a taxi driver, who drove the perpetrator to the location without knowing his motives, identified him as the one who was responsible.

Though friends and a hotel manager testified that he was in a town hundreds of kilometers away on the day of the robbery, it wasn’t enough to clear his name.

Ultimately, an assessment based on the idea that no two human ears are the same was performed, and it was ruled that his ears matched those of the suspect in the photo. Stellwag was found guilty and would spend the next nine years behind bars.

It wouldn’t be until his release in 2001 that fingerprints at the crime scene would reveal the responsible man’s identity. This alarming reality demonstrates that not only did the criminal justice system fail Stellwag, but that, in this instance, he was the victim.

READ: Where is Donald Stellwag now?

After being released, he enjoyed the limelight and appeared in multiple television show interviews. It felt like he was making up for lost time and clawing back control of his life.

His string of bad luck is a common theme highlighted in the documentary. Stellwag was raised by his grandparents after losing his parents at a young age, and he felt like an outcast among his peers.

At 25, he was diagnosed with a brain tumor and informed that his life would never be the same again. After hearing this devastating news, he resorted to selling drugs for money, setting up illegal casinos, and running scams.

Years after Stellwag finished his prison sentence, his name cropped up again after a gold transporter was robbed on the highway by men claiming to be police officers. Gangster rapper Xatar was revealed to be part of the crime and, in front of a jury, claimed that Stellwag was the man behind the curtain and gave him the information needed to perform the robbery.

Big Mäck: Gangsters and Gold isn’t afraid to commit to the material presented and leave no stone unturned. After spending almost a decade in prison for a crime he did not commit, it’s clear that Stellwag has nothing to lose and enjoys narrating his story.

The film creators, Fabienne Hurst and Andreas Spinrath waste no time jumping straight into the bank robbery narrative, which hooks viewers instantly.

The events are so outlandish that you can’t help but feel like you’re watching a farfetched thriller that’s as unpredictable as it is enticing, and turning it off isn’t an option.

Is the 2023 documentary Big Mäck: Gangsters and Gold Good?

While Big Mäck: Gangsters and Gold isn’t one of Netflix’s best true-crime documentaries, it’s so bizarre that you can’t help but feel engrossed by the story. Stellwag is an enigma, and while watching, you will shift between feeling empathy for him and questioning his truthfulness.

A drawback of the film is how his life events are presented to viewers with a muddled timeline that becomes confusing. Reenactments of his life are also gimmicky, which can distract from the story, giving the real-life accounts that follow a less serious feel.

Still, the documentary film is a must-watch for true crime fans, with parts of his story and its validity left to interpretation.

What did you think of the Netflix Documentary Film Big MäckGangsters and Gold? Comment below.

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