During Napoleon's victorious campaign in Germany, the city of Kolberg gets isolated from the retreating Prussian forces. The population of Kolberg refuses to capitulate and organizes the ... See full summary »
During Napoleon's victorious campaign in Germany, the city of Kolberg gets isolated from the retreating Prussian forces. The population of Kolberg refuses to capitulate and organizes the resistance against the French army, which immediately submits the city to massive bombardments. Written by
Eduardo Casais <email@example.com>
The film was first shown to German troops in Occupied France (La Rochelle). See more »
In the final scene set in 1807 we learn that Schill died. However Ferdinand von Schill actually died at 31st May 1809, two years after the story, after which he also became major and head of a group of hussars in Berlin. See more »
I saw "Kolberg" on French television some time ago. What was most interesting about it was how desperate the propagandizing looked in this film - as if the filmmakers knew that they were on a sinking ship and that time was running out. I don't think the film is as "evil" as other Nazi films but it's only watchable for the historical interest of witnessing the final product, the last gasp, of a dying, militarist, and anti-humanistic culture. It looks like a film shot on borrowed time.
Herr Goebbels mentioned that "Kolberg" was an attempt to one-up the Hollywood style and clearly, he's given his director, Veit Harlan, the financial and manpower resources to stage some big scenes. Or, at least, what I think were big scenes. Goebbels, worried that the sight of Prussian troops (the film is set during the Napoleonic wars) getting wounded and killed in battle might demoralize the flagging German spirits - the film was shot in 1944 - and thus cut most action sequences out of the film. You'll get an army charging a hill abruptly cut into a shot of a burning house(whose ignition is never seen) cut again into someone encouraging the dedicated Prussian citizenry to hold fast against the merciless French troops. Cut back to a charging army that never really engages with the enemy. Cut again to panicking villagers. In between these gaps, which become more egregious as the film progresses, you get hamfisted attempts at colorful local humor, an impossibly convulted plot that crosscuts between several German towns to no avail, and an overbearing Valkyrie peasant woman forever spurring her fellow subjects to the Higher Cause (she's the most sexless woman in movie history). Everything in the movie is impossibly crude to the hammer-on-anvil dialouge, to the declarative acting (each actor seems to be wearing his or her own Greek mask while at the same time failing to make any impression whatsoever), to the whole stilted and incoherent pacing of this film.
The film is terrible but fascinating, especially given the context of when and where it was made. Goebbels diverted troops from the eastern front for the battle scenes that he subsequently mutiliated. And when one learns that Goebbels considered this the film that would revive the Nazi cause and that it was filmed at the time and near the locations where the Final Solution was shifting into high gear, it leaves you with a strong feeling of disgust for the whole enterprise. Even the subject matter, about Kolberg's citizens futilely defending themselves against a French onslaught, seems out of place. The tale is obviously used to rally support for the flailing German cause but the Kolberg citizenry's efforts were lost (the Prussian army was vanquished) and thus the message of the film is cancelled out. In an even greater historical irony, by the time the film debuted (30 January 1945), the Pomeranian town of Kolberg had been taken over by the Russians and today is a part of Poland.
"Kolberg" is a unique document showing a well-oiled propaganda machine collapsing in the face of its immanent demise. It achieves the opposite of its intent. The stolid face at the end of the film with the proto-Nazi flag as a backdrop is supposed to convey a sense of determined conviction but there's fear in those eyes.
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