14 user 21 critic

Der Unhold (1996)

Frenchman Abel Tiffauges likes children, and wants to protect them against the grown-ups. Falsely suspected as child molester, he's recruited as a soldier in the 2nd World War, but very ... See full summary »

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Cast overview, first billed only:
... Abel Tiffauges
... Count von Kaltenborn
... Chief Forester
... Frau Netta
... Fieldmarshall Göring
... SS-Officer Raufeisen
... Professor Blättchen
... Rachel
Sasha Hanau ... Martine
Luc Florian ... Prisoner of War
Laurent Spielvogel ... Prisoner of War
... Prisoner of War
Philippe Sturbelle ... Prisoner of War
... Lawyer
Jacques Ciron ... State Attorney


Frenchman Abel Tiffauges likes children, and wants to protect them against the grown-ups. Falsely suspected as child molester, he's recruited as a soldier in the 2nd World War, but very soon he is taken prisoner of war. After shortly serving in Goerings hunting lodge, he becomes the dogsbody in Kaltenborn Castle, an elite training camp for German boys. Completely happy to take care of these children, he becomes a servant of Nazism, catching boys from the area as supplies for the camp. Written by Frank Wallner <wallnerf@informatik.tu-muenchen.de>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis




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Release Date:

12 September 1996 (Germany)  »

Also Known As:

Le roi des aulnes  »


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$3,500, 13 December 1998, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$49,166, 5 September 1999
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


Prior to the school fire, a caption says "Paris 1925". Upon his arrest as an adult, Abel, through his narration, remembers the fire as having happened "twenty years ago". This would place his adult scenes in 1945, but when he joins the French army after his arrest it is before the German occupation of Paris which would place his arrest in 1940. However, Abel is slow-witted and possibly does not have an accurate sense of time. See more »


Count von Kaltenborn: This whole beautiful country, to which we have given our souls, is utterly doomed. It's going to be wiped out of human memory. Our entire heritage, even our name, our ancestors' names, wiped out, all wiped out!
See more »


Featured in Hollywood Profile: John Malkovich (1998) See more »

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User Reviews

A Postmodern Critique of History
20 September 2000 | by See all my reviews

Throughout the tenure of Western Metaphysics, conceptions of History have, for the most part, followed logical and foundationally epistemological models. The causally linear chain of historical events has, at its inception, a causa sui which, in turn, results in a progression of events much like the links in a chain-a conception that postmodernists have, at the very least challenged. Volker Schlöndorff also challenges, or at a minimum complicates, the metaphysical heritage of history in his film The Ogre. Schlöndorff foregrounds the importance of history by setting his narrative during the Twentieth-Century's most seminal moment, World War Two.

His criticism, however, filters through his mise-en-scene. Throughout The Ogre, monuments of historically influential figures or symbols make their presence-i.e. Jesus, cathedrals, the swastika, aristocrats, etc. And the film is replete with very dominant straight lines. But Schlöndorff subverts the dominance of these straight lines on several occasions. When Abel and the other French prisoners are transported via train to their prison camp, Abel looks to the exterior at a series of telephone/telegraph lines running concurrently. In an eye-line match, the camera provides us with a point of view shot, aligning our view with Abel's. Eventually, however, these lines end by moving offscreen to the top. In another instance, Abel assists his fellow prisoners in the digging of trenches. Abel's task is to lay rope or wire along the distinctive lines of the trenches. In one shot, Abel moves increasingly deeper into the frame lengthening the line not only of the trench but of the rope or wire as well. But with a quick 180-degree edit to a medium shot, the lines disappear. Throughout The Ogre, institutions are associated with structures composed of bricks or other patchwork materials such as stained glass windows. The construction of these establishments are founded not upon linearly laying brick upon brick, but by piling a brick upon two other bricks in such a way that they interlock to make a whole. In other words, institutions are built by the confluence of numerous factors and not a direct relation from an immediately preceding event. In fact, intersecting lines appear throughout The Ogre and the numerous shots in which the characters are displayed through the filter of these enmeshing lines exemplify their effects upon the lives of the characters. The strongest representatives of Western Metaphysics in the film are the Nazis and the Hitler Youth program for which Abel is a servant. In one scene the boys line up assembled in a courtyard listening to a speech by their headmaster. This scene takes place at night and in a swooping crane shot the boys are indistinguishable from the night. The boys look ahead and their supervisors are lit from behind by the flames of torches hence making them appear only as shadows. This spectacle seems particularly reminiscent of Plato's `Allegory of the Cave.' The boys' headmaster informs them that they no longer have parents and that they now belong to the Fatherland. This proclamation also calls to attention Plato's ideas respective to the Academy and the necessity to remove children from their parents for the purposes of indoctrinating the youth with concepts to which their parents would be adverse. Schlöndorff also directly criticizes the Hitler Youth program through the very materials on which they trod. In one shot, the boys are gathered on a driveway paved with cold gray bricks. The pavement is deteriorated and formed by disparate bricks in opposition to the strongly embroidered buildings around them.

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