Warning: this film contains ideological propaganda
You will also find my first review for the film "Solange leben in mir ist", which is the forerunner of the present one. In fact, they form a whole, and Icestorm sells them together in a single box. Since the film originates from the famous DEFA studios in the Bolshevist GDR (East-Germany), it is interesting to analyze the diverging ideological perspective of the narrative. The German Bolsheviks saw Karl Liebknecht (1871-1919) as their forerunner, since later, in 1919, he participated in the formation of the German Bolshevist party (KPD). It was then that he became a martyr, which made him into their textbook example for the people: an attitude of revolutionary self-sacrifice and a willingness to exploit oneself. I wonder if the average American can understand this culture - and thus the film. The American culture is shaped by philosophers like Ayn Rand (Greenspan is one of her disciples) advocating the virtue of selfishness. Anyway, Karl Liebknecht was the son of the authoritative social-democrat (SPD) politician Wilhelm Liebknecht. The young Liebknecht followed in his fathers footsteps and became a member of the SPD-fraction in the Reichstag (parliament of the empire). The story of the film, recorded in color, begins in October 1918. Note that "Solange leben in mir ist" ended with Liebknechts imprisonment in 1916, so we skip two years. In Germany the republican revolution has started, and the social-democrats form a temporary government, based upon the coalition of the two social-democrat parties MSPD (right-wing) and USPD (left-wing), and led by Reichskanzler (prime minister) Ebert. Karl Liebknecht and other political prisoners are released. Liebknecht is one of the leaders of the sectarian radical left-wing Spartakus Group, who are still a part of the USPD. The film contains an obvious sign of propaganda in the first scene, where Liebknecht meets Wilhelm Pieck (the later president of the GDR). In Berlin Liebknecht calls for the proletarian revolution, following the concept of Lenin. The government strongly opposes such a development, sensing that it will cause a bloody civil war and suffering for the people. At the same time, the government must negotiate with the reactionary generals. Everywhere, the workers and soldiers spontaneously form councils, and the military is temporarily powerless. The Spartakus Group occupies the Berlin newspaper quarter. Interestingly in a congenial meeting with Liebknecht the old Mehring (he died after Liebknecht, in 1919, due to old age) contends that Ebert has betrayed the people. The Ebert government proclaims the republic, but even then Spartakus refuses to disarm. In vain the military tries to defeat a division of rebellious navy sailors. The MSPD negotiate agreements with the old regime in order to allow for a peaceful restoration of order. In the film the MSPD is portrayed as a puppet regime of the military, which is a historical falsification. In majority, the people had really become tired of fighting. In my opinion, and I am pretty knowledgeable on the subject, Liebknechts plan brought Germany on the brink of a civil war, which would have further aggravated the situation of the people. I would say that his final actions were highly questionable and perhaps irresponsible. You can find additional and reliable information in the film Rosa Luxemburg by director Von Trotta. Anyway, on December 29 1918 the USPD ministers decide to leave the government, creating room for the hard-hearted MSPD minister Noske. On December 30 1918 Liebknecht, Luxemburg and others form the German Bolshevist party (KPD). Noske orders the military troops (Freikorps) to invest Berlin. In the first weeks of 1919 the remaining upsurges in Bremen and Berlin are beat down. A Prussian officer murders Karl Liebknecht on January 15, together with Rosa Luxemburg. Most GDR films are quite bearable, but her I found the ideological propaganda rather irritating. On the other hand, there are lots of exciting mass scenes, and the many caricatures, for instance of the steel "barons" Krupp and Thyssen, are definitely funny.
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