May 2017, arsenal cinema

Popular and Loyal to the Party Line. The Ufa Empire from 1933 to 1945

DIE GROSSE LIEBE, 1942

During Ufa's centennial year, a symposium of academics from Germany and abroad organized by the Deutsche Kinemathek and UFA GmbH is taking place on May 11 and 12 to explore the films made by the studio between 1933 and 1945 as well as new aspects of the company's history. For a small accompanying film series, a total of six features and four "Kulturfilme" have been chosen which Ufa produced during the National Socialist era. The films exemplify the themes of the symposium, such as propaganda and militarism, Ufa stars and escapism, the relationship between the sexes, and the significance of work and the everyday in the society of the time.

AMPHITRYON (Reinhold Schünzel, Germany 1935, 11.5.) opens the series, a musical comedy narrated in verse that is based on the classical Greek saga and became the most expensive film ever made by Ufa upon its release. Schünzel, who had mainly made a name for himself in the early 30s with sound film operettas, was able to shine here for one last time before he had to emigrate to the US in 1937, as he was regarded by the National Socialists as “half-Jewish”. Alongside the wit, tempo and musical lightness of touch, one can very much recognize ironic allusions aimed at the NS regime in this comedy. The last part of the film in particular, in which the victorious troops return to Thebes cheered on by the masses, can be read as such as mocking the mass parades on the Nazi party rally grounds in Nuremberg – above all because the soldiers are played by soldiers from the "SS-Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler" – Hitler's personal bodyguard. 

INKOGNITO (Richard Schneider-Edenkoben, Germany 1936, 12.5.) varies the motif of work and the everyday with the familiar format of the mistaken identity comedy – one of the most popular genres in National Socialist cinema. The somewhat work-shy heir to a washing powder factory (Gustav Fröhlich) pretends to be a simple salesman and mixes with his staff unrecognized, causing a considerable tumult until he learns to appreciate the value of work. It goes without saying that he meets his big love in the process.

DER MANN, DER SHERLOCK HOLMES WAR (Karl Hartl, Germany 1937, 13.5.) is a true star vehicle for Hans Albers. This comedy crime thriller tells the story of two unsuccessful private detectives (Albers and Heinz Rühmann), who pretend to be Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson at the World Exhibition in Paris in order to improve their business prospects. A bourgeois society marked by arrogance and blasé attitudes is initially taken in by the two of them. In line with the motto "clothes make the man", a checked coat, peaked cap, and pipe are all that are needed for the duo to obtain total access, while also getting them mixed up in all possible complications.

ILLUSION (Viktor Tourjansky, Germany 1941, 13.5.) This melodrama gave Johannes Heesters, who was more responsible for light entertainment in the Third Reich, the opportunity to prove himself as a character actor. Challenged by Brigitte Horney in the role of a successful and ambitious actress, the confirmed bachelor and landowner agrees to a bet. She suggests to him that the two of them pretend to be married for two months in order to prove that he is indeed made for marriage. In line with the traditional image of roles of the era, the landowner falls in love, but the price he demands for marriage is for her to completely give up on her job and career. The actress is unable to comply with this request however – a rarity in NS cinema – and so the dream of a marriage between two partners of equal standing remains an illusion.

MORGENROT (Gustav Ucicky, Germany 1933, 14.5.) This submarine drama is set during the First World War and was produced in the last months of the Weimer Republic, eventually receiving its premiere in the presence of "Reich Chancellor" only a few days after Adolf Hitler seized power. The technically proficient, tensely directed film propagates enthusiasm for war, nationalism, and unconditional sacrifice. One line from the speech given by captain lieutenant Liers (Rudolf Forster)  to his crew in the face of the inevitable sinking of the attacked submarine has been quoted again and again: "We Germans perhaps may not understand how to live, but we certainly can die marvelously."

DIE GROSSE LIEBE (Rolf Hansen, Germany 1942, 14.5.) became the Third Reich’s most successful film. One reason for its extraordinary success may be the way it combined being a Zarah Leander film and a contemporary air force drama. Zarah Leander plays a Danish revue star living in Germany with whom a German fighter pilot (Viktor Staal) falls in love. Grand-scale revue numbers and songs still well known today are linked here to an explicit depiction of everyday life in Germany in wartime. The two thus first meet in an air raid shelter, yet are separated again and again. There are disappointments and misunderstandings until the singer and her audience learn: “The world won’t end from such things”. Individual luck is always to be renounced in favor of national community.

METALL DES HIMMELS (Walther Ruttmann, Germany 1935, 11.5.), MANNESMANN (Walther Ruttmann, Germany 1938, 12.5.), WER FUHR II A 2992? (Karl G’schrey, Germany 1939, 13.5.), HEISS FLAGGE! (Kurt Stefan, Germany 1935, 14.5.) The short films selected for the film series offer a look at how "Kulturfilme" were made at Ufa. (nw)

A film series by the Deutsche Kinemathek – Museum für Film und Fernsehen in collaboration with the Friedrich-Wilhelm-Murnau-Stiftung and with the friendly support of the Bundesarchiv-Filmarchiv and Transit Film GmbH.

arsenal cinema: Roles and Plays – The Films of Matías Piñeiro

07:30 pm Cinema 1


Hermia & Helena

Hermia & Helena
USA/Argentine 2016
DCP OV/EnS 87 min

arsenal cinema: Popular and Loyal to the Party Line. The Ufa Empire from 1933 to 1945

08:00 pm Cinema 2


Inkognito

Mannesmann

Inkognito Richard Schneider-Edenkoben Germany 1936 35 mm 88 min
Showing first: Mannesmann Walther Ruttmann Germany 1938 35 mm 15 min

arsenal cinema: Roles and Plays – The Films of Matías Piñeiro

09:15 pm Cinema 1


Viola

Viola Argentine 2012
DCP OV/EnS 63 min