|Index||5 reviews in total|
Paulus "Oom Paul" Kruger (1825-1904) was president of the
Transvaal(1883-1900) and leader of the Boers during the Boer War
(1899-1902). Although defeated by the British, Kruger achieved
acclaim for his stout fight against the odds.
In the film, a blind and exiled Kruger recounts the war to his young nurse. The British are depicted as clever, duplicitous, and ruthless. The Boers are shown as resolute and valiant, but ultimately as victims. So the film served Nazi audiences as both an inspiration and as a warning - honor the Boer's heroism but don't let their fate befall you!
Jannings is excellent as Kruger and the caricatures of the British villains (Queen Victoria, Lord Kitchener, Winston Churchill - complete with bulldog) are sometimes amusing, but the spectacle scenes (a Boer "off to war" parade and the battle sequences) are much too long and poorly edited. The final massacre of women and children in a British concentration camp is clearly derived from the Odessa Steps sequence in Eisenstein's "Potemkin."
Propaganda pictures are seldom effective and "Ohm Kruger" is no exception. Everything in the film is taken too far, but then the Nazis had a tendency to go too far. In that sense, "Ohm Kruger"reflects their perspective very well.
Watching Ohm Kruger from the somewhat distant perspective of the next
century and remembering what kind of ruthless and apartheid state the
descendants of the Boer War veterans created after World War II you
certainly have a different vision of the film and the time it portrayed
and the time and place it was created. Ohm Kruger was a centerpiece
propaganda effort for Joseph Goebbels and the German film industry
during the Third Reich.
Emil Jannings plays a stout and resolute Kruger who fought at the head of his Boer people for the life of the two Boer Republics, his own Transvaal and the Orange Free State. It's a brilliant performance as good as The Blue Angel or even the films that won him the first Oscar for Best Actor in the American cinema.
The best propaganda will contain just enough truth to make it believable and Ohm Kruger does have some uncomfortable truths in it. Cecil Rhodes was indeed a scheming rogue with big ambitions which were fueled exponentially with the discovery of gold in the Transvaal. Like oil today its discovery excited the British who had already pushed the Boers out of the Cape Colony. Not that his Boers were the simple yeoman farmers. In fact they liked the idea of gold on their turf as much as any British people. The film shows Rhodes and his company looking to buy Boer land, but Kruger wants a law passed forbidding sale of land to foreigners.
What they can't buy they take. Which in a nutshell is the key to the Boer War. Kruger and his Boers fought back, but in the end lost mainly because of a method of war that was introduced by Lord Kitchener the British commander. Round up the civilian Boer farmers, destroy the farms and put them into camps to concentrate them. Hence the term concentration camps, invented by the British in that war.
All this was of course to justify the Nazi use of the same. Those camps for the Boers were no fun, they were not properly sanitized, people did die in them for lack of food and proper care. But what they weren't were systematic death machines used for the eradication of whole different kinds of people. That the Nazis perfected on their own.
In fact like good little Nazis the horrific climax of the film is the wholesale massacre of women and children in one of the camps that was commanded by an actor looking much like Winston Churchill, smoking a cigar with an English bulldog. Churchill was in the Boer War, but as a correspondant and he was captured by the Boers and later escaped to write an exciting book about it. He never was commandant of the camps, in fact was a new Tory Minister in Parliament when this was going on.
We also see a scotch swilling Queen Victoria always supplied with a flask by her faithful retainer John Brown who was already dead by the time of the Boer War. The Germans even when they had a parliament had a strong man minister in Bismarck and a succession of tools after him reporting to Kaiser Wilhelm II. Parliamentary democracy was not a concept grasped by the Germans so they were shown a ruling as well as a reigning Queen Victoria played by Hedwig Wangel. In fact she summons the Prince of Wales from the Folies Bergere in Paris to her deathbed to give her the charge of keep all the nations quarreling else they unite and finish us. And of course that's what Hitler was trying to do unite the nations against the only countries left in the fight against him at the point that Ohm Kruger was released, Great Britain and her Commonwealth partners and former colonies.
In all this very little mention is made of those who made up the vast majority of the population the natives of South Africa. British missionaries come in for their share of dissing when they're shown in one scene dispensing Bibles on one side and rifles on the other while teaching the natives to sing God Save The Queen. Later on Kruger confronts a native chief who has a British rifle. Just how many American westerns were made with the plot of evil white men arming the Indians for some nefarious purpose? But again it's good to remember these are the folks whose descendants instituted apartheid in the true Aryan racial tradition. Speaking of America, it gets barely a mention here, we were not in the war and the Nazis had hopes still of keeping it that way.
Ohm Kruger as a piece of propaganda fulfilled its mission. One will most certainly be reinforced in Anglophobia if one sees it. It's battle scenes and the scenes of the Boers mobilizing as a nation to fight tyranny from outside are impressive technically. It's a brilliant piece of film making, but the source has to be carefully considered.
Although Ohm Krüger seems to show a realistic account of what happened during the war of the South African 'boers' against the English roughly 100 years ago, it is a good example of how the Nazi propaganda machine worked during World War II. The film is historically not entirely correct, and was mainly meant to have the audience sympathize with the South African 'boers' representing the German people fighting against the English. But with this in mind the film is even more interesting to watch: it clearly shows how the propaganda machine of Nazi-Germany worked under the leadership of Minister of Propaganda Goebbels. Still, for a more realistic account of the boer-wars it is recommended to visit your local library.
I have already seen THE GREAT KING and BISMARCK, so I knew what to
expect from these Third Reich "Great Man" historical pictures. Like
those, this story of Paul Kruger and the Boer War is well made and
epic. You'll find yourself asking how in the world they were able to
film some of the massive battle scenes when they were deep into WW2!
Like those other two films, the hero stands in for Hitler. He's incorruptible even when surrounded by dirty politicians. He dedicates his life and soul for the Fatherland, despite what it costs him. Sound like the official picture of any German fuhrers you know from 1941? Emil Jannings gives a superb performance, especially in the scenes at the end when Kruger is forced to go to the various courts in Europe to beg for assistance in the war. (something that did happen as the movie portrays)
The anti-British propaganda flies fast and loose. Queen Victoria is presented as something of an alcoholic. The British officials are dishonest and obsessed with gold (as opposed to Kruger's Boers, who are focused on good National Socialist activities like working the land and raising big families). Of course, the focus on the historically accurate and awful British concentration camps is ironic. But never let a bit of truth get in the way of a good piece of propaganda. It's one more way to see the enemy's evil nature.
Speaking of good little National Socialists, Gisela Uhlen takes Kristina Soderbaum's usual role as the beautiful and strong Aryan wife. Actually, she's stronger than Soderbaum, whose characters had a tendency to commit suicide after being raped or otherwise "dishonored". But the two actresses are certainly similar physically.
And in an inspired bit of casting, Ferdinand Marian plays Cecil Rhodes - Marian's previous role was the title character in JUD SUSS. The real Rhodes was by no means a Jew, but he was definitely obsessed with gold and diamonds and power. And since he did indeed orchestrate the events leading up to the Boer War, it's clever - from a propaganda viewpoint -- to suggest that the Brits and Jews are equally evil. Marian's terrific. He's so convincing in this type of role that it's no wonder he had trouble after the war.
As we know from history, the Boers lost the war. But the film ends with a voice-over from Kruger about how one day a greater power will come along and punish the wickedness of the English.
Wonder what he meant?
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"Ohm Krüger" is a German movie from 1941 and if you look at the year, you will not only realize that this film has its 75th anniversary in 2016, but also that it was the years of World War II at this point and that this is a German Nazi propaganda film. A duo of writers adapted the novel here and there were also many directors working on the film. But it is a case of too many cooks spoiling the broth. It is the Nazis' perception of what happened in South Africa in the 19th century. There is a whole lot of irony to the entire thing looking at how Nazis perceived Blacks, but the main propaganda message is not about Blacks here, but about the English colonists. The character of Paul Kruger is used for this purpose. And he is played by Oscar-winning actor Emil Janning ins his last big role. With all he achieved previously in silent film especially, it is sad to see him collaborate with the Nazis on this occasion and on several other occasions. And this is also what my review title refers to. And what is even worse about this film is that it runs for easily over 2 hours and drags a lot. Even in the parts, when it is not obvious propaganda it is just a truly boring watch and drags a lot, so that I could not wait until the film is over. No justice done to Kruger at all. The character would have deserved a far superior movie. Jannings is not bad, but it is impossible for any actor to elevate the weak (sometimes despicable) material here. i absolutely do not recommend the watch. Major thumbs-down.
|Main details||Your user reviews||Your vote history|