Saturday, June 25, 2011

Die letzte Kompagnie / The Last Company

[the title of the print:] The Last Company. An Heroic Ballad. Viimeinen komppania / L’ultima compagnia. DE 1930. D: Kurt Bernhardt. SC: da Die letzte Kompagnie, die Geschichte der 13 Helden von Jena (1916) di Hans Wilhelm, Hermann Kosterlitz; SC: Ludwig von Wohl; Heinz Goldberg, Hermann Kosterlitz; DiaHans J. Rehfisch; DP: Günther Krampf; ED: Carl Winston; PD: Andrej Andrejew; Co.: Alexander Arnstam; M: Ralph Benatzky, Franz Grothe; S: Gerhard Goldbaum, Erich Schmidt; Ass. D: Erich von Neusser; Cast: Conrad Veidt (Capitano Burk), Karin Evans (Dore), Erwin Kalser (Müller), Else Heller (la mugnaia), Maria Pederson (Magd), Heinrich Gretler (Pelle), Paul Henckels (Pitsch), Ferdinand Asper (Götzel), Martin Herzberg (Heller), Werner Schott (Biese), Philipp Manning (Möllmann), Max W. Hiller (Machnow), Ferdinand Hart (Klotz), Alexander Granach (Haberling), Gustav Püttjer (Püttjer), Albert Karchow (Wernicke), Horst von Harbou (Stibbe); P: Joe May per Joe May-Produktion/ Universum-Film AG (Ufa), Berlin; Pri. pro.: 14 marzo 1930. 35 mm. 2167 m. 79’. B&w. [not die Deutsche Fassung]. Sound version, English version. From: Bundesarchiv – Filmarchiv. Saturday, 25 June 2011 at 14.30 Cinema Lumière - Sala Officinema/Mastroianni, Bologna (Il Cinema Ritrovato) (Conrad Veidt).

Catalogue: "Less suited for distribution abroad but just as successful in Germany was Ufa’s second genre: the “national” film, usually featuring a Prussian subject and a more or less overt ideological direction. These films were not bound to the invention of sound film like the operetta film. They were, however, the second significant Ufa creation. In 1930 Die letzte Kompagnie (directed by Kurt Bernhardt) came out in theaters (…). In an interview with Mary Kiersch, Bernhardt explained how there was a scene he refused to film: “It was a scene written by Mr. von Wohl and added later to the film. Conrad Veidt was supposed to make a nationalistic, chauvinistic speech. The German captain from above the mill looks at the French general on horseback.
The French man says: ‘There is no reason to defend the mill. Prussia doesn’t exist anymore.’
And the German answers back: ‘Where I am standing is Prussia.’
I refused to film this scene, and it almost cost me my life four years later.
Kiersch: Was it Joe May who shot this scene?
Bernhardt: Let me think... Yes, I think it was Joe.
Kiersch: And did Conrad Veidt have any objections to the speech?
Bernhardt: No.
The importance given to this passage of dialogue was a characteristic of nationalist film. The decisive element, the political message, had to be expressed in words and explicitly depicted, as if the undisputable meaning of the action were not enough. It was an element that would be a hallmark of Nazi propaganda." Rainer Rother: Film operetta e film “nazionali”, in Schermi germanici. Ufa 1917- 1933, edited by Giovanni Spagnoletti, Marsilio, Venice, 1993.

AA: A nationalistic propaganda film. "Where we stand there is Prussia" really is a motto for the whole story. Die letzte Kompagnie is interesting mostly as an example of the German military spirit of the era. The English sound recording is not quite convincing. The print has a low contrast, duped quality. In the Conrad Veidt retrospective Die letzte Kompagnie has the significance of showing the actor's ease in military roles in a development that led from Lord Nelson in Lady Hamilton to Major Strasser in Casablanca.

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