Die Geschichte vom kleinen Muck (1953) Poster

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6/10
The Story of Little Muck
TheLittleSongbird27 June 2019
'Little Muck' is one of Wilhelm Hauff's most famous fairy tales and has been adapted a few times. It is charming enough with a likeable titular character and interesting thematically, but is very slight and one of those stories that lends itself better to a short film or 20-30 minute television episode from personal opinion. As far as Hauff's fairytales go, there is a vast personal preference for 'The Cold Heart', which is even more interesting from a psychological standpoint and has much more to it.

That fairytale/story was also adapted three years earlier in 1950 in East Germany distributed by DEFA. Found that film vastly superior, partly because of the story itself, but also because it did better at respecting its source material, took it more seriously and the characters in general are more memorable. 'The Story of Little Muck' is still worth seeing though, and is enough to make one feel why there aren't any more older East German fantasy/fairy-tale films and why those that exist aren't better known regardless of their overall quality. 'The Story of Little Muck' is one of the most popular and successful of them, but for me while it is not a terrible film and did like it better than the other commentators (respectfully, do share their flaws though) other films of theirs have held up much better.

Will start with the good things. It still looks pretty great now, which is amazing considering there are many fantasy/fairy-tale films made later that look nowhere near as good, cheap-looking even. It may not be flashy or big in spectacle, the budget and technology being not as advanced at the time, but the story didn't call for that and appreciated that it wasn't overblown and didn't rely too much on effects at the expense of everything else. The production design is suitably rustic and colourful and didn't look simplistic, while it is beautifully shot in colour that never looked too drab or garishly gaudy. Any effects aren't overused or abused.

Other DEFA films have music scores that stick in the mind more, but the music doesn't make the mistakes of being intrusive, too loud, monotonous, over-used, cheap-sounding, juxtaposing too much mood-wise that it doesn't fit or too much of its time that it dates the film. Nice score on the whole. Little Muck is as likeable as he should be, always relate to his type of characters, as is Hassan. There is charm and imagination when it did get going, though not enough, Thomas Schmidt is appealing as Muck and the ending rounds things off nicely.

Conversely, 'The Story of Little Muck' is one that doesn't really lend itself to a feature film. It is too slight and the film does try to stretch scenes out to fill out the running time (which is not that long really, but in context of this film it felt too long) and the film feels over-stretched as a result. This affects the pace which is very uneven, sometimes perfect but at other points dull, if it got going quicker for example that would have improved it.

Do agree that the comedy is too broad and actually consider a lot of the acting on the wrong side of theatrical, especially the villains. Outside of Little Muck and Hassan, also didn't connect with the characters, all of which bland and broadly acted. The blandness and lack of naturalness is present in the writing. The direction is competent but not much more than that.

In conclusion, above average but couldn't help feeling disappointed because the East German fairy/folk-tale films have been a more than worthwhile experience for me. 5.5/10
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4/10
All decent, except the most important aspect
Horst_In_Translation14 September 2016
Warning: Spoilers
"Die Geschichte vom kleinen Muck" or "Der kleine Muck" or "The Story of Little Mook" is an East German 100-minute movie from 1953. The director is Wolfgang Staudte and the writer is Peter Podehl and both were really successful in their respective fields, even if only Staudte (if at all) is much more than the script writer here going by today's popularity. Podehl mostly worked on children-oriented works while Staudte also made more "serious" films. But this fact also shows you that this movie here is much more than just a watch for kids. The writer of the original fairy tale is Wilhelm Hauff and if you heard his name before, you may know that his tales are frequently much darker and also much more violent than the works of Hans Christian Andersen or the Brothers Grimm for example. he also wrote "Das kalte Herz", which has been adapted into film many times.

But back to this one here. I already wrote in the title that I felt this is a somewhat decent achievement. And this especially refers to the visual side. The costumes and sets are all really well done and don't need to be shy of a comparison with Hollywood. This film looks much newer than early 50s and it is difficult to believe from the looks of it that this one is already easily over 60 years old. One reason for that may be the bright colors given the fact that there are still German black-and-white films from 20 years or more later, such as Schlöndorff's "Der Fangschuß". The acting in the little Muck movie is okay too, but the one big problem I had here were the characters and the story. It was really difficult to care for any of them I must say and for their actions. Yes you should not take everything seriously (or anything?) in films from the fantasy genre, but still I need at least some credibly dramatic substance and I was missing it here. Quite a shame the film ended up this underwhelming with regards to the plot as all the other aspects I mentioned were convincing and the sound track that I have not yet mentioned was good too. "Der kleine Muck" is one of these German films where everybody has heard the title here in Germany, but hardly anybody knows the story. Maybe the reason is that Hauff's story just isn't good enough to have people care about it as much as they do about other fairy tales. I give this one a thumbs-down. Not recommended.
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5/10
A once popular children's film that has not aged well.
pscamp017 March 2019
The Story of Little Mook is an East German fantasy movie from the 1950s. It tells the story of a little hunchback boy who has a series of magical adventures as he seeks to find his fortune after his father's death. The sets and the color cinematography are very nice, bit those are about the only positive things I can say about the movie. To be fair, the version I saw had the most egregious dubbing which may have made the movie seem worse than it really was. But the story seemed simplistic and dull while the comedy was overly broad.

Even though it was made behind the Iron Curtain, it was exported all over the world, and according to the East German Cinema Blog, it was East Germany's highest grossing film. But it's hard to imagine any child sitting still for it now.
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