A old German mine was split in two after the end of WWI because of the new border. In the Frenchpart a fire breaks out. The German minwers send a rescue group in, helping their French comrades. A group of three old German miners, who where not treaten friendly at a French inn the night before, start their private rescue through an old way, where since 1919 the border is. After all survivors are rescued, there's a big party with speeches about friendship between Frensh and Germans, while border police closes the old way in the mine. Written by
Stephan Eichenberg <email@example.com>
The movie was filmed in the narrow transitional sound ratio of 1.20-1, but, at least in the case of the Janus video release telecast on Turner Classic Movies, has been converted to the standard 1.37-1 ratio with the result that the players' heads are cut off either partially or completely in many of the key scenes. In the final sequence, the heads of the speakers are completely cut off. See more »
This, the finest achievement from Georg Wilhelm Pabst's Social Realism period is based upon a tragedy in early 1906 that claimed the lives of nearly 1100 French miners as a coal dust explosion deep in mines at Courrieres in northern France took place after a fire had smouldered for three weeks, eventually releasing deadly pit gas that brought about the fatalities. Estimable designer Erno Metzner creates stark sets that simulate the tragedy, providing a perception of reality, augmented by matchless sound editing, with the only music being produced by integral orchestras during the beginning and ending portions of a work for which aural effects possess equal importance with the eminent director's fascinating visual compositions. Pabst's manner of "invisible editing" that segues action from shot to shot through movements of players proves to be smoothly integrated within this landmark film that also showcases sublime cinematography utilizing cameras mounted upon vehicles, enabling the director to shift amid scenes without having a necessity of cutting. Although the work's cardinal theme relates to Socialist dogma, the unforgettable power of this film is held in its details, born of Pabst's nonpareil skill at weaving numerous plot lines into a cinema tapestry that stirs one to admiration for German rescue squads of whom their Fatherland is greatly proud while no less despairing of disastrous losses to the families of French victims; certainly, a seminal triumph fully as stimulating today to a cineaste as it was at the time of its first release.
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