Lifelong hard work for the count makes the servant Anton a cripple. Everybody calls him Crooked Anton. When, after the end of the war, the land of the count gets divided amongst the farmers...
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Lifelong hard work for the count makes the servant Anton a cripple. Everybody calls him Crooked Anton. When, after the end of the war, the land of the count gets divided amongst the farmers, Anton receives a piece and hopes to be able to work freely. But an old debt and intrigue keep Anton and his family from finding peace. The farmers of the village begin to discover their own power when Annegret, Anton's daughter, leaves. Is a new beginning possible for Anton? This film paints an impressive panorama of the development of a minor village in Mecklenburg from the end of the war to the uprising of 17 June 1953. Written by
DEFA Film Library
Raimund Schelcher had a drinking problem during the time of the shooting of this picture. To avoid him from drinking too much and not be able to film his scenes, the then unknown Hans Hardt-Hardtloff was engaged to film every of Schelcher's scenes as well as an understudy. If Schelcher had been too drunk to finish the movie, it could have been released with Hardt-Hardtloff instead. This events inspired Andreas Dresen to his loose comedy adaptation of this incident in Whisky mit Wodka (2009). See more »
In the fifties the culture in East-Germany was used as an instrument for changing the political perspective of the people. This approach, which was used in books, films, music, theater etc., is called Aufbau (build up). Actually it is not at all bad. The nasty catch is that other ideologies were persecuted. Aufbau aims at the two main social classes of the time, the industry workers and the peasants. The film Schloesser und Katen (gents and peasants) is part of the "agricultural" Aufbau, and covers the period between 1947 and 1953. It shows the changes in the rural life in German villages, that become part of the Soviet Zone. At the start of the film all well-to-do persons flee for the coming Russians. They are portrayed as a decadent clique around the local count. To be fair, the Russians had a reputation of sexual harassment. Only the "inspector" Broeker, the solicitor of the count, remains behind. The small Bolshewist fraction seizes power. The land of the count is distributed among the small peasants and land workers. Soon the first tractors arrive from the Soviet Union (in reality the Russians plundered the land, but film directors are free to romanticize). The rich farmers are not amused, because they lose their personnel, and can not buy new land, seeds for sowing etc. They form a reactionary group. On the other hand, life remains tough for the peasants. They live by the sweat of their Frau. The local Bolshewists try to keep up the good spirit (in East-Germany the workers jested: "One day our product quality will be such, that we need to install gateway checks"). Actually the amazing party frequently hinted at her dis-satisfaction with its ever- lazy proletariat. No more classes, but there are educators and pupils. Several years later the Bolshewists stimulate the small peasants by means of gentle menaces to unite in a cooperative (LPG, Landwirtschaftliche Produktions Genossenschaft, a kolchoz). Note that Bolshewism comes in national variations; in the Polish policy the small farmer polloi was protected. The solicitor, who now works for the collective seed company, becomes an intermediary between the large farmers and the exiled count. They talk about Day X, when the contra- revolution will expel the Bolshewists. Day X? Day T would be more appropriate, but then the Bolshewist joke in the script ("Day X is followed by day Y: yail") would not hold. During this Day X, which refers to the uprising of 1953, the solicitor murders a local Bolshewist party official. However, the uprising is beaten down by the army, and the solicitor himself is killed. Some of the large farmers move to West- Germany, others reconcile with the system. The people start to accept the new way of life. End of story. Since the film takes an amazing three hours, the script had to be extended with some agricultural romance and drama. Acceptable albeit somewhat outdated. The picture may not be completely objective, but it is not a caricature either (probably because the makers knew that the audience had access to western information). Another agricultural Aufbau film is Wege uebers Land, industrial ones are Sonnensucher and Beschreibung eines Sommers, and one in Berlin is Dolles Familienalbum. You may call them amazing films. But unlike these other dramas Schloesser und Katen has English subtitles. It is nice to know what has been said.
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