Film Series / Events

Browse All Film Series

November 3 – December 7, 2018

MAPPING GRAY ZONES
The Inexact Beauty of Early West German Cinema, 1949 – 1963

In a 1960 essay called Hierzulande, Heinrich Böll describes the difficulties of explaining the Federal Republic of Germany to a friend from abroad. He uses a rather intriguing adjective in this piece to refer to the young nation: ungenau,or inexact. He means that the Federal Republic was characterized by contradictions and paradox, or, to put it more casually: things refuse to add up—at least in the way most people would have liked. Which goes like this: after May 8th 1945 and some serious re-education, Germans understood the error of their ways and changed from the master race to a humble bunch of penitents—the Zero Hour myth. Germany hadn’t changed overnight; yet changed it had, little by little and sometimes even in great leaps (of faith), not too radically but gradually, in a way maybe more human yet decidedly less easy to narrate, one of compromise, all shades of grey with little black and almost no white. So while the nation’s government, led by chancellor Konrad Adenauer, was indeed a frighteningly conservative, and at times blatantly reactionary one, good parts of the citizenry did refuse to fall in line with its policies. People were fighting against the FRG’s armament, against it becoming a NATO member, for better labour laws, for women’s rights. Few of these challenges, or shows of dissent and defiance, ended in immediate all-out victory, but they did change the nation in the long run. 

The FRG fifties are not a lost decade, as popular liberal mythology likes to have it—a silent one, maybe, similar to the States, but not a lost one. And, yes, the films of the period do tell this story. With all their unpredictable twists and turns of stories and fates, double and triple endings, clashes and/or layers of styles and genres, 1950s West German cinema bears witness to this surprising and often creative quest for a modern democratic state out of the rubble of a modern fascist dictatorship. Ottomar Domnick’s Neue Kunst – Neues Sehen, Bernhard Wicki’s Das Wunder des Malachias, Wolf Hart’s Werftarbeiter, Gerd Oswald’s Am Tag, als der Regen kam, Wolfgang Staudte’s Rose Bernd, Harald Braun’s Der gläserne Turm and Helmut Käutner’s Die Rote / La rossa, among others, provide cinema commentary on these developments.

It doesn’t mean that people cared to listen. For things cinema and Federal Republic, the Zero Hour myth worked very well, if mainly retroactively. Because the decisive moment came almost two decades later, in 1962 on February 28th at the 8th West German Days of the Short Film Festival in Oberhausen, where twenty-six filmmakers proclaimed: The old cinema is dead. We believe in the new one. That several of the directors who made this claim had learned their craft in the industry they now derided, and that some of their greatest works are best described as avant-garde ads for Adenauer-era accelerated industrial development (eg. Ferdinand Khittl’s Das magische Band, Haro Senft’s Kahl), is quite another matter—another one of those contradictions ...

One of the Oberhausen Manifesto’s cultural legacies is a vast blank space. By now, FRG 50s cinema remains essentially unknown abroad, and at home it’s considered a special case. Vanished from the screens big and small where it was still a formidable presence until the coming of the Berlin Republic post-‘89, badly preserved by the nation’s various archives, buried under heaps of clichés and truisms about the period long debunked by academia in fields like history or sociology, it has become more difficult than ever to discuss this era in German film history.

The one thing acceptable to like from this time and place are the works of Wolfgang Staudte (even if the ones venerated were mainly East German state (DEFA) productions) and Helmut Käutner, the era’s two-star auteur. But, please, don’t take the former’s pleasure in his craftsmanship and genre-savviness too seriously, and neither the latter’s political bite, for that would confuse received wisdom on their respective arts. Having anything good to say about other major directors of the period like Harald Braun, Rolf Thiele, Rolf Hansen, Kurt Hoffmann, Robert Adolf Stemmle or Frank Wisbar counts for wilful eccentricity. The same holds true for a serious interest in the era’s key genres: comedies (musical or not), Heimatfilme, crime movies, melodramas, war films (and woe betide if you dare to make some slightly more serious claims for the abilities of those who made crafting entertainments their niche; it might be okay to praise Phil Karlson or Joseph Kane, but don’t dare to suggest that their West German colleagues like Hans Deppe, Paul May, Harald Reinl or Paul Martin should deserve the same cinéphile care and attention). Ditto a love for this cinema’s stars, some of whom had strong international careers. While we’re at it, here’s one of those clichés regurgitated for decades: only abroad could all those talents show how good they really were. Well, the only thing they showed was the versatility of their craft: that they were able to play in styles popular back home as well as in fashions preferred in other cultural spheres; mind that Ruth Leuwerik, for instance, one of the period’s biggest stars, was vilified when she gave her performance in Die Rote an air of haughty Antonionian despair, and Sonja Ziemann, the era’s other major female box office draw, was looked at with barely suppressed disdain when she tinged her performance in Aleksander Ford’s Der achte Wochentag / Ósmy dzień tygodnia with some Thaw-sulkiness. It was okay to be different… elsewhere. But where is home anyway?

Which also means: the Young German Cinema hotshots’ vitriolic denunciations of West German 50s cinema merely reinforced what the ancien establishment (liberal as well as conservative) had proclaimed all the time. Audiences might have adored the Bonn Republic film production, grosso modo (as long as it catered to their tastes), but critics didn’t. Reading through the writings of many major reviewers active in these years, one gets the impression that the industry and its artists could barely do right; the more or less unreserved praise for films like Victor Vicas’ Weg ohne Umkehr or Peter Pewas’ Viele kamen vorbei by key critics of the age like Gunter Groll were massive exceptions.

Yet this reading brings forth something else: the press back then showed a huge interest in short films and their potential. Long articles were devoted to animation gems like Rolf Engler’s Traum in Tusche or Florenz von Nordhoff’s Die Purpurlinie; proper attention was paid to experiments like Volkswagen’s stereoscopic productions exhibited mainly at trade fairs (e.g., Curt A. Engel’s Ein Wagen und sein Werk), or Herbert Viktor’s self-consciously modern promotional film Schichten unter der Dunstglocke, financed by the city of Oberhausen; while one of the biggest animation masters of the day, Hans Fischerkösen, was treated with a generosity even Staudte and Käutner could envy. And there was good reason for that… All these experiments might, just might, lead to something different in the industry’s middle-ground, the core of its production: the fiction feature. Change seemed to be everywhere, or at least desirable.

This program is a digest/variation of a much vaster retrospective on the subject presented at the Locarno Film Festival 2016 under the title Beloved and Rejected. Both were conceived as invitations to further exploration, as sketches of a map in dire need of textures and colors. In contrast to any earlier explorations of the period (in the late 1980s in the FRG as well as the early 2000s in the USA), attention was also paid to all aspects of production beyond narrative feature films, to give a more proper idea of the various riches to be found here. – Olaf Möller, born, raised, still living in Cologne, writes about and programs films.

Co-sponsored by the Goethe-Institut Boston.

Special thanks: Eric Rentschler, Arthur Kingsley Porter Professor of Germanic Languages, Harvard; Marina May, Karin Oehlenschläger—Goethe-Institut Boston.

Film descriptions by Olaf Möller. Images courtesy HFA and Deutsches Filminstitut – DIF.

 

 


Saturday November 3 at 7pm
Friday November 30 at 9pm

The years 1948-1952 saw a surprising surge in the production of horror films; the anxieties about the years ahead were palpable, it seems, while the memory of the terrors survived—and too often participated in—remained vivid. One of the most staggering works of this brief-but-rich cycle is Viktor Turžanskij‘s rarely-screened Jekyll-and-Hyde version Vom Teufel gejagt, featuring one of the era’s most beloved male idols, Hans Albers, as the doctor losing control of his dark side. For added depth and relevance, a colleague who, years before, had assumed the doctor’s guilt when an experiment went badly returns to continue their earlier research—besides, his name is tarnished anyway, where else could he go? It’s difficult to not see this very elegantly dispassionate piece (a curious predecessor to the soon rising Arztfilm-wave) as an attempt to discuss its star’s and auteur’s involvement with the Nazi-era film industry: Albers starred in Herbert Selpin’s world-weary anti-British epopee Carl Peters (1941), and Turžanskij directed (and co-wrote) the edgy anti-Polish, anti-labor drama Feinde (1940).

Chased by the Devil (Vom Teufel gejagt)

Directed by Viktor Turžanskij. With Hans Albers, Willy Birgel, Lil Dagover
West Germany 1950, 35mm, b/w, 100 min. German with English subtitles

Print courtesy Bundesarchiv.

Browse Other Series from this Season
Return to Top

Saturday November 3 at 9pm
Friday November 23 at 9pm

No Way Back (Weg ohne Umkehr)

Directed by Victor Vicas. With Ivan Desny, Ruth Niehaus, René Deltgen
West Germany 1953, 35mm, b/w, 95 min. German with English subtitles

Some of the most unruly and inspired, inventive and experimentation-prone West German films of the 50s were made by auteurs for whom Berlin (West), Hamburg or Munich were merely stops on a journey from opportunity to opportunity. Many of the filmmakers came from Central and Eastern Europe, were deemed undesirable at home, and had often already some major works to show for themselves. The outstanding figure of this eccentric bunch was probably Victor Vicas, who got his industry entrée by way of his Marshall Plan—and re-education shorts. His biggest critical success, Weg ohne Umkehr, told the tale of Zorin, a reluctant defector, a man at odds with the USSR as well as the US, in love with Anna, a woman whose life he saved in the final days of WWII; she makes him finally flee his home in the east for an uncertain future in a west, whose promise of liberty he takes with a grain of salt. Carol Reed’s The Third Man (1949), the gold standard of critical judgment in those days, was often evoked to describe the film’s style—only to add that Vicas’ sense for the nitty-gritty of real life made this a superior work. Print courtesy Bundesarchiv.

Browse Other Series from this Season
Return to Top

Sunday November 4 at 7pm

Rose Bernd

Directed by Wolfgang Staudte. With Maria Schell, Raf Vallone, Käthe Gold
West Germany 1957, DCP, color, 85 min. German with English subtitles

West German cinema of the 50s and 60s saw several cycles of literary adaptations by the same writer. It might say a thing or two about the audience of those years that among those authors were two with the highest possible literary distinction: Thomas Mann and Gerhart Hauptmann. The former had been vilified in the first years after the end of WWII by the conservative and reactionary forces in Germany due to his emigration to the US (as well as his unsparing comments about the Germans’ willing support of the Nazis). The latter, on the other hand, had stayed in fascist Germany and tacitly accepted the Nazis’ (ab)use of his name. Considering the politically ambiguous status of Hauptmann, it’s fascinating that his works should inspire several of the 50s most outstanding films. The most celebrated one was the cycle’s opener, re-migrant Robert Siodmak’s FRG-debut Die Ratten (1955). Yet, those that followed often proved more daring, complex and twisted—and none more so than Wolfgang Staudte’s terribly underappreciated, expressive and unruly Rose Bernd that, like all other 50s Hauptmann-adaptations, re-imagined the original work in a contemporary setting, with the titular character being turned into a refugee. The atmosphere is doom-laden while full of wild-going-mad emotions, brought to the fore as much by an extraordinary ensemble of actors as by the film’s eye-popping colors. Print courtesy F.W. Murnau Siftung.

Browse Other Series from this Season
Return to Top

Monday November 5 at 7pm
Sunday November 18 at 3pm

Asylrecht

Directed by Rudolf Werner Kipp
West Germany 1949, 35mm, b/w, 42 min. German with English subtitles

Asylrecht is a curious production: medium-length, an unclassifiable cross between documentary and fiction, made on order of the British Film Section, premiered at the Venice Film Festival, shown for the first time in West Germany on the occasion of a refugee congress, and never regularly released except by way of non-commercial distribution for decades in various versions. Call it a crypto classic, like several other works of Rudolf Werner Kipp, a master of educational filmmaking who, in his finest achievements, did honor to his professed main inspiration: John Grierson. Kipp filmed with real refugees in actual camps. While in many cases scenes were arranged with their participation, some of the most dramatic moments were shot using a hidden camera. The refugees whose plights we learn about here mainly try to leave the Soviet-occupied areas for the Trizone, but not everybody could enter. Curious considering that West Germany would need every person able to work (in fact, later shorts about refugees stress exactly this as the main argument for being less hostile towards the strangers). In the film’s most haunting shots, groups of refugees walk like spectres through misty woods and meadows—lost to the world, fallen through a crack in space and time. Print courtesy Bundesarchiv.

 

The Day the Rains Came
(Am Tag als der Regen kam)

Directed by Gerd Oswald. With Mario Adorf, Christian Wolff, Gert Fröbe
West Germany 1959, DCP, b/w, 88 min. German with English subtitles

now want to drive a snazzy car. I now want to travel the world. I want to get something out of life now, and not when I’m going feeble. This is Werner speaking, Werner Maurer, boss of the Black Panthers, a Berlin (West) gang terrorizing the Frontstadt with a series of brutal burglaries and heists. The Panthers are wild ones, bikers on life’s eternal fast track to doom and oblivion—gutter existentialists who commit crimes instead of writing essays and theatre pieces. But none of them is so full of rage as Werner, who’s afraid of ending up like his father: an alcoholic, erstwhile doctor kicked out of his order. None of daddy’s values for Werner: Security, order, my ass! Do I know whether tomorrow I’ll be called up to serve, whether the day after one of those atom-things drops on my head? If anybody understood this country in all its sad and angry, paranoia-stricken, crazy, impoverished-for-all-its-new-riches beauty and sorrow, it’s re-migrant Gerd Oswald, who brought the neurotic Hollywood pulp tough of A Kiss Before Dying (1956) and Screaming Mimi (1958), as well as the depressive melancholia of Fury at Showdown and Valerie (both 1957), to a project that on paper must have looked like a slightly edgier than usual crime-doesn’t-pay tale. Welcome to West Germany. Print courtesy Deutsche Kinemathek.

Browse Other Series from this Season
Return to Top

Introduction by Jennifer Lynde Barker
Sunday November 11 at 5pm

Avant-garde is a word rarely used in discussions of 50s West German cinema, which at first seems absurd considering that so much of the young nation’s most interesting works of art would qualify as experimental and pioneering. That said, save for the painter-sculptor-inventor-“occasional chemist” Franz Schömbs (who actually built his own optical bench—called the Integrator—for Opuscula!), there were no other filmmakers who devoted their time and energies to the creation of works formally challenging and nothing but. This doesn’t mean directors weren’t experimenting like mad, just not as l’art pour l’art but, rather, in the context of other genres. For instance, Neue Kunst – Neues Sehen is a documentary about modern art that lends its formal strategies from the works and artist presented; Der Wundertisch starts as a popular educational documentary on editing that ends in a hand-painted abstract film (made for the main part in 1943!); the animated commercial Alles für alle perplexes and enchants through its jazzy mix of styles and tones, while Die Purpurlinie delights with its cheekily surreal imagination; Das magische Band, finally, made in praise of BASF-manufactured magnetic tape, is a playfully essayistic piece of meta-cinema on time and memory. 

Jennifer Lynde Barker is Associate Professor, Chair of the English Department, and Director of Film Studies Minor, Bellarmine University. Author of The Aesthetics of Antifascist Film: Radical Projection (Routledge, 2012), she has published in a number of journals and book collections.

New Art – New Vision (Neue Kunst – neues Sehen)

Directed by Ottomar Domnick
West Germany 1950, 35mm, b/w, 10 min. German with English subtitles

Print courtesy SWR Media Services GmbH.

Opuscula

Directed by Franz Schömbs
West Germany 1946-52, 16mm, color, 5 min

Print courtesy Deutsches Filminstitut.

The Miracle Table (Der Wundertisch)

Directed by Herbert Seggelke
West Germany 1954, 35mm, color, 10 min. German with English subtitles

Print courtesy Bundesarchiv.

Everything for Everybody (Alles für alle)

Directed by Hans Fischerkösen
West Germany 1955, 35mm, color, 4 min

Print courtesy Bundesarchiv.

The Magic Tape (Das magische Band)

Directed by Ferdinand Khittl
West Germany 1959, 35mm, color, 21 min

Print courtesy Deutsche Kinemathek.

The Purple Line (Die Purpurlinie)

Directed by Florenz von Nordhoff
West Germany 1959, 35mm, color, 14 min

Print courtesy Deutsches Filminstitut.

Browse Other Series from this Season
Return to Top

Introduction by Olaf Möller
Sunday November 11 at 7pm

The Eighth Day of the Week
(Der achte Wochentag
 / Ósmy dzień tygodnia)

Directed by Aleksander Ford. With Sonja Ziemann, Zbigniew Cybulski, Barbara Polomska
Poland/West Germany 1958, DCP, b/w, 83 min. German with English subtitles

Artur Brauner, a Polish-born Jew and Holocaust survivor who, on August 1st of this year, fêted his 100th birthday, was the most outrageous character in the small but competitive world of film producers active in postwar Germany and the FRG. What set him apart from the rest maybe more than anything else was his interest in international co-productions—preferably with film industries on the other side of the Iron Curtain. In this regard, Der achte Wochentag / Ósmy dzień tygodnia was maybe the most important project of his life: the first official co-production between the People’s Republic of Poland and the Federal Republic of Germany. It ended in a political miasma: leading West German reviewers judged the film after its premiere at the Venice Film Festival “Ungerman in style and soul,” while in People’s Poland Ósmy dzień tygodnia became the longest-shelved movie in the country’s four-decades-plus history. Seen today, this very urbane, disillusioned yet hopeful love story reveals itself as one of the most exciting and engaging films of the era—in both film cultures and both versions. DCP courtesy CCC Filmkunst.

Browse Other Series from this Season
Return to Top

Olaf Möller in Conversation with Eric Rentschler
Monday November 12 at 7pm

Redhead (Die Rote)

Directed by Helmut Käutner. With Ruth Leuwerik, Rossano Brazzi, Giorgio Albertazzi
West Germany/Italy 1962, 35mm, b/w, 100 min. German with English subtitles

Die Rote marks another unhappy meeting between Young German Literature and cinema’s Altbranche (as the movie establishment was derisorily called). Only that the stakes here were higher than in the case of Der gläserne Turm. Here, major public figures clashed. Alfred Andersch, the author of Die Rote, was one of the most vociferous and politically opinionated characters in the Federal Republic’s literary scene at the time, while Helmut Käutner, arguably the best known and respected director around, was one of the few figures of his trade the average viewer would be able to recognize and, most likely, respond to with positive feelings. When the film premiered at the Berlinale ’62, Andersch attacked Käutner at the press conference, complaining about the dialogues, to which Käutner reportedly only replied: But you wrote them…! Nevertheless: The ‘62 intellectual set’s sympathies were with Andersch; Käutner didn’t stand a chance. He was merely a remnant from a dead world. This broodingly existentialist-cum-cosmopolitan mood piece about a woman leaving a useless man behind while getting drawn into a perverse game of cat-and-mouse between a shady Western allies-affiliated operator and a flamboyantly jovial Nazi in hiding became a critical as well as box office disaster and saw to Käutner’s slow withdrawal from cinema; his major works thereafter were created for television. Print courtesy Deutsche Kinemathek.

Preceded by

To All the Lonely Ones (Den Einsamen allen)

Directed by Franz Schömbs
West Germany 1962, 35mm, color, 8 min

 

Browse Other Series from this Season
Return to Top

Friday November 16 at 9pm
Friday December 7 at 9pm

1957 was a key year for West German cinema. Major industry auteurs, as well as outside figures like Ottomar Domnick (Jonas), decisively moved into more modern artistic directions; this year alone merits a whole retrospective. But then again… maybe Der gläserne Turm, one of the most erratic works of the era, contains it all. The film holds a special place in the annals of Federal Republic cinema as the lone work of a seminal figure of German-style literary modernism: Wolfgang Koeppen, one of the writers (of course, he hated the film). Formally, the film is as perplexing as the design of its main set: industry leader Robert Fleming’s loft overlooking Berlin (West). Storywise, it’s up to the minute: Katja Fleming refuses to obey her husband Robert any longer; the year saw the annulation of a Wilhelminian era-law on these matters (that’s the genius of zeitgeist for you). That Katja is a retired actress who—seduced by a play written specially for her by returnee John Lawrence—wants to return to the stage for others, and not only for Robert, adds a fascinating level of artistic self-reflection to the mix. That the story, two-thirds of the way in, suddenly turns from vulgar Bergmanian psychodrama into a Krameresque courtroom thriller with a twisted happy end plus a weird comic interlude might suggest how bizarre the FRG’s dream life really was. (And to ease the way into this world: another piece of modern music for eyes and ears by Franz Schömbs.)

The Glass Tower (Der gläserne Turm)

Directed by Harald Braun. With Lilli Palmer, O.E. Hasse, Peter van Eyck
West Germany 1957, DCP, b/w, 104 min. German with English subtitles

Print courtesy F.W. Murnau Siftung

Preceded by

The Birth of Light (Die Geburt des Lichts)

Directed by Franz Schömbs
West Germany 1957, 35mm, b/w & color, 11 min. German with English subtitles

Print courtesy Deutsches Filminstitut.

Browse Other Series from this Season
Return to Top

Friday November 23 at 7pm

Outside West Germany’s movie industry at the time, one of the biggest promoters and producers of unusual films was the labor organizations. They brought forth some of the era’s most radical examples of realist cinema, as well as some of its most remarkable essays in abstraction. Technically, all of these films would be considered documentaries. Werftarbeiter and Menschen im Werk belong to the former group; like Asylrecht, they were made using amateurs often playing themselves (more or less) and in the process acting out labor disputes in front of the camera. The latter is actually the final work by a giant of world cinema, Gerhard Lamprecht, who from then on would focus his energies on raising awareness for the importance of film history, culminating in the founding of the first film archive in Germany: the Stiftung Deutsche Kinemathek. Schichten unter der Dunstglocke and Kahl, again, are prime examples of the above-mentioned documentaries with a taste for formal experimentation, the latter especially: all perfectly composed lines and eerily gorgeous shades of milky whites and glaring reds. It’s a feast for the eye; rarely has an atomic power plant looked so sexy.

Labor and Management (Werftarbeiter)

Directed by Wolf Hart
West Germany 1951, 35mm, b/w, 17 min. German with English subtitles

 

Layers Under the Haze (Schichten unter der Dunstglocke)

Directed by Herbert Viktor
West Germany 1959, 16mm, color, 15 min. German with English subtitles

Print courtesy Bundesarchiv.

Kahl

Directed by Haro Senft
West Germany 1961, 35mm, color, 12 min. German with English subtitles

Print courtesy Deutsche Kinemathek.

The Miracle Table (Der Wundertisch)

Directed by Herbert Seggelke
West Germany 1954, 35mm, color, 10 min. German with English subtitles

Print courtesy Bundesarchiv.

Everything for Everybody (Alles für alle)

Directed by Hans Fischerkösen
West Germany 1955, 35mm, color, 4 min

Print courtesy Bundesarchiv.

Browse Other Series from this Season
Return to Top

Saturday November 24 at 9pm

The Miracle of Father Malachia (Das Wunder des Malachias)

Directed by Bernhard Wicki. With Horst Bollmann, Richard Münch, Christiane Nielsen
West Germany 1961, 16mm, b/w, 88 min. German with English subtitles

Bernhard Wicki’s Die Brücke (1960) remains, besides Kurt Hoffmann’s Wir Wunderkinder (1958), the one West German production of the 50s with something of an international reputation and ongoing influence. No film about teenagers in wartime doesn’t owe a debt to this (piece of) work. The monumental success at home and abroad offered Wicki the opportunity to raise the enormous budget for a project in many ways much closer to him: Das Wunder des Malachias, a massive fresco detailing the interior corruption of the rampant development of Wirtschaftswunder Deutschland,or the Miracle on the Rhine, from bottom to top, from strip-joint habitués and performers to marketing wizards to the upper reaches of a religious order. Remarkably enough, among all the West German movies of the time talking about religion (of which there are many), this is one of the extremely few that dares to feature (off-screen) a miracle, as in: God does something outrageous. Like all the best works of Wicki, this film is sprawling, episodic, all over the place, animated by unexpected detours and asides, while directorially firm, ultra-controlled, visually monumental—the work of a berserker-artist. Print courtesy Bundesarchiv.

Browse Other Series from this Season
Return to Top

Sunday November 25 at 7pm

Peter Pewas remains one of the most venerated wild cards of German cinema; his maiden feature, Der verzauberte Tag (1943), a wild-at-heart exercise in Carnéian poetic realism, was suppressed by the Nazi censors, and his sophomore effort, Straßenbekanntschaft (1948), an exposé on prostitution and venereal diseases in Weimar-era Straßenfilm-guise, became one of the biggest moneymakers for the newly-founded DEFA, the East German state-run film studio. The latter became something of a problem when Pewas decided to seek his fortunes in West Germany; while it was okay for genre craftsmen like Hans Deppe or Arthur Maria Rabenalt to have worked in the Soviet Occupied Zone or even the GDR (especially when they had “done their bit” for Nazi Germany), the likes of Pewas faced hard times in the FRG. Viele kamen vorbei was, in fact, a project offered to him by another maverick, anarcho-conservative producer-writer-director Gerhard T. Buchholz (Weg ohne Umkehr, 1953), who was desperately looking for someone to do this serial killer-yarn told from several perspectives: that of perpetrator, victim, investigator and innocent bystander (the victim’s adorato). Pewas used the opportunity to create a visually dazzling genre exercise for which he mixes styles and moods like mad. The title of Hans Fischerkösen’s splendid bitters ad in the shape of an ultra-condensed horror film (nightmares! ghosts!) would also work perfectly for Pewas’ gem: Through the Night to the Light.

Many Passed By (Viele kamen vorbei)

Directed by Peter Pewas. With Harald Maresch, Frances Martin, Christian Doermer
West Germany 1955, DCP, b/w, 85 min. German with English subtitles

Print courtesy Deutsches Filminstitut.

Preceded by

Through the Night to the Light (Durch Nacht zum Licht)

Directed by Hans Fischerkösen
West Germany 1955, 35mm, color, 2 min

Print courtesy Bundesarchiv.

Browse Other Series from this Season
Return to Top