1941, the Third Reich seems to be winning the war. Luftwaffe (air force) general Harry Harras enjoys the good life as highly respected technician and Berlin ministry/ HQ official. However ... See full summary »
Viktor de Kowa
Caught at the window just before an air-raid warning (WWII) composer Paul tells how he met his wive Anni, a revue star and song writer, how he handled the courtship and the early years of ... See full summary »
Vienna during the fin de siecle. Farmer's daughter Anuschka has to sell the farm after her father's death to the rich but mean farmer's wife Nowarek and her friendly son Jaro. Anuschka goes... See full summary »
Can we choose when our great period is going to be? I don't think so. But for many filmmakers it comes at the right time, right along with the Zeitgeist: Godard in the 60s, Scorsese in the 70s... Kaütner, however, had the great misfortune to have his great period right in the middle of the Third Reich. But the man is a real filmmaker, and this is one of his best.
The camera glides like Ophuls'. It spies, it imposes, it takes a respectful distance. As in the films of the true greats, objects take on so much meaning - almost a life of their own. And Franziska is a really interesting character: a forward, modern woman (she cuts right to the chase as far as spending the night is concerned) and a self - sacrificing perfect Nazi Frau - both at the same time.That first night is so-o-o sexy! And the matching trench coats - so cool! And the farewells at the train station - so epic. Beautiful!
Is this a "Nazi movie"? All films are ideological. Germany - in this film - is clearly associated with ROOTEDNESS - all else, everywhere else, with rootlessness. But, while the film critiques this rootless life, can we imagine a disenfranchised segment of a contemporary German audience noticing how attractive this rootlessness is made, what with groovy music, sexy women, lots of drinking and dancing...? Lines to be read between? Kaütner's films seem lightly transgressive, albeit lightly enough that they could be made...
The "Good German" Christoph is such a submissive, weak character - steadfast, OK, but so bloodless! But maybe that's ideological, too: REAL men are wanderers, no matter where they wander. And real women stay put at home. Sounds pretty Nazi to me! It's not that far from Harlan and Opfergang... In the last half hour the film proceeds towards its ending, towards the only overtly Nazi scene. Various possible outcomes arise, especially when, at the fourth train station leave taking, Franziska and Michel keep missing each other. I guess we could quote the great Douglas Sirk: "You don't believe the happy ending, and you're not supposed to". But what other ending could there have been in Germany in 1941, anyway?
I've been watching a lot of Kaütner lately. Fascinating. He is really due for a serious revival. A Criterion box? That would shake some things up. Imagine the great sociological discussions that would barely deal with the films themselves at all! Well, I'd rather not. But there's a lot to talk about.
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