16th Century German doctor upsets the status quo with new "German" methods of treating illness.
G. W. (PANDORA'S BOX) Pabst's celebratory film about the "revolutionary" 16th century German philosopher/doctor (known as Paracelsus and actually born in Switzerland) holds more than just historical interest as a Nazi approved subject. Though Pabst's sound films never achieved the prominence of his silent work, this is a well produced biopic with real surprises, especially when Paracelsus gives credit to Gypsy (!) folk remedies or when an Expressionist dance number symbolizes the entry of the plague (St. Vitus' Dance) into the closed town. Suddenly we're in Powell/Pressburger territory. Often obvious and slow, but certainly worth investigation, and not all that different from similar Hollywood produced biopics on ZOLA and LOUIS PASTEUR by director William (Wilhelm) Dieterle, a former colleague from Pabst's early UFA days. In fact, Dieterle's 1939 HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME has many visual and thematic similarities. The romantic subplot, straight out of Die Meistersinger, only adds to the usual discomfort of watching a Goebbels approved Nazi era production.
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