Wed Mar 1, 8:11 AM ET
BERLIN (Reuters) - A real-life German cannibal who ate a willing victim is being immortalized on the big screen, like the fictional Hannibal Lecter, despite his legal bid to block the movie version of his gruesome crime.
'Rohtenburg' ('Butterfly -- A Grimm Love Story') is set to open in Germany on March 9 and will hope to profit from the shock and fascination the case of Armin Meiwes evoked in a transfixed public in Germany and beyond.
The movie tells the tale of fictional American criminal psychology student Katie (Keri Russell) who is drawn in by the bizarre case of a Meiwes-like character called Oliver Hartwin.
The cannibal plot of the movie, seen in a preview on Tuesday, is almost identical to real-life events. It also shows a younger Hartwin as a loner forced by a domineering mother to wear Lederhosen at school. Like Meiwes, he dreams up an imaginary friend.
Later, as a computer repairman, Meiwes's career, he is drawn to the 'Cannibal Cantina' Web site in his search for a willing victim, who he finds in Simon Grombek.
'I want you to bite off my thing. Are your teeth strong enough?' Grombek asks in one of the movie's more startling lines.
Later, when the two meet at a railway station near Hartwin's half-timbered home, mirroring that of Meiwes, Grombek introduces himself with the line 'I am your meat' a prelude to his slaughter.
Director Martin Weisz says the film is merely inspired by real events, but Meiwes's lawyers are not convinced.
Meiwes's lawyer Harald Ermel complains the film effectively portrays his client as a 'beastly murderer,' arguing the main actor could be Meiwes's twin brother and that the movie is a confusing blend of truth and fiction.
"The ending is all wrong. The victim is stabbed in a frenzy a dozen times. In reality, it was just one stroke," Ermel said.
Meiwes has sought to block the film's release. A German court will determine Friday whether his rights have been infringed after lawyers presented arguments Tuesday.
Ermel also believes the March release date is inappropriate as judges at Meiwes's retrial could then be considering their verdict.
The real computer repairman was sentenced to 8-1/2 years for manslaughter in January 2004.
However, Germany's Supreme Court ruled the judges had been too lenient and ordered a retrial, which started in January.
Meiwes only killed one man, unlike notorious American serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer, who practiced necrophilia on and ate some of his 17 male victims, but Meiwes's case is unique because his victim wanted to be eaten.
Legal experts have focused on the case.
Meiwes's lawyers argue he is only guilty of illegal euthanasia, but prosecutors say the fact that Meiwes filmed the slaying for sexual gratification should tip the scale toward murder.
Meiwes severed his victim's penis and they both tried to eat it, initially raw then fried. The bizarre scene is also part of the movie, Hartwin serving up the dish for a candlelit knife-and-fork meal for himself and a weakening Grombek.
When the victim fell unconscious, Meiwes took him to his "slaughter room," slit his throat, pulled out his organs and chopped off his head. In the film too, Hartwin hacks into the corpse, with a severed head in the foreground.
The movie title "Rohtenburg" is a corruption of Rotenburg, the town where Armin Meiwes lived. "Roh" is German for raw.