Diederich Heßling is scared of everything and everyone. But as he grows up, he comes to realize that he has to offer his services to the powers-that-be if he wants to wield power himself. ... See full summary »
April 1945. Because he stole two bars of chocolate, the soldier Rudi is sentenced to death by the court-martial judge Dr. Schramm. Rudi manages to escape from the firing squad at the last ... See full summary »
Ingrid van Bergen,
A young shoemaker is arrested for stealing a small amount of money, and is released after being jailed for 15 years. He wants to have a pass to get a job and start anew, but without a job ... See full summary »
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
The mechanic Behnke wants to join the Nazi party to secure a good living. However, after his Jewish neighbors have been taken away, he changes his views. Trying to remain "a non-political ... See full summary »
Karl Heinz Deickert
This consists of four short films by different directors. Rosselini's 'Chastity' ('Illibatezza') deals with an attractive air hostess who receives the unwelcome attentions of a middle aged ... See full summary »
Several employees on a nobleman's estate show up at a former abbey, reputed to be haunted, to search for a hidden treasure. Howver, a mysterious hooded figure begins killing off those who may have figured out where the treasure is hidden.
Franz Josef Gottlieb
As rumors reach them that the Allied armies are advancing on their concentration camp at Buchenwald, Polish prisoners renew their feeble hope for survival and freedom. When a group of ... See full summary »
Wolfgang Staudte takes a few swipes at the West German judicial system in this fairly effective courtroom drama about the murder of a four-month-old baby. Police almost immediately arrest ... See full summary »
Andrea Zaccardi has returned home from hunting. He and his wife Luisa are very close. Their young son Giulio develops a cough. The doctor recommends the seaside. Luisa leaves with Giulio ... See full summary »
Luisa Della Noce
Diederich Heßling is scared of everything and everyone. But as he grows up, he comes to realize that he has to offer his services to the powers-that-be if he wants to wield power himself. His life motto now runs: bow to those at the top and tread on those below. In this way, he always succeeds: as a student in a duel-fighting student fraternity and as a businessman in a paper factory. He cajoles the obese district administrative president Von Wulkow and wins his favor. He slanders his financial rivals and hatches a plot with the social democrats in the town council. On his honeymoon with his rich wife Guste, he finally finds a chance to do his beloved Kaiser a favor. And when a memorial to the Kaiser is unveiled in the town where Diederich lives and works, he delivers the address. He stands behind the lectern in the pouring rain, saluting his Kaiser. The crowd is dispersed. Everything is laid in ruins... Written by
To fully understand "The Kaiser's Lackey" (of "Man of Straw"), you need to understand who made the film and the purpose of it. This is an East German film and in the view of the German Democratic Republic (the Soviet-controlled East Germans), the enemies of the State are the upper and middle classes--particularly those who control the means of production (this is from Socialism 101 as taught by Professor Marx). So, the film looks at the reign of Kaiser Wilhelm II as a struggle between the workers and these ultra-nationalists--in a single representative town and featuring a particularly nasty and soul-less man (Diederich Heßling). The film follows Heßling from his childhood to adulthood--during which he used his position and privilege to exploit or ignore those beneath him, while sucking up to all those above him in the social system.
While not obviously funny when you watch it today, the film is social satire. Naturally, the film was the party line in East Germany and was embraced. However, its reinterpretation of history (which ignored liberal reforms and blamed the Prussian middle-class and militarism on the Nazis) did not sit well in the West--especially since West Germany was being rebuilt and molded by the middle and upper classes. Because of this, the film was at first suppressed and only allowed to be released with a few judicious edits---most of which seem very harmless today but which were fuel for the Cold War at the time. Much of this analysis is NOT because I am some sort of a genius--the special features on the DVD featured a professor from UMass-Amhearst that analyzed and explained the film--something that you should definitely see.
Well acted and thought-provoking. While its history lesson is a bit simplistic, it is well made and quite compelling.
2 of 3 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?