The (probably) last German Monday Film Show in this semester has been labeled the “only real fantasy film” and as usual we’ll have a bring and share before and during the screening.
(1943, 103 min., dir. Josef von Baky, starring Hans Albers, Brigitte Horney, Ilse Werner, English subtitles)
TIME: 5.00 p.m.
VENUE: Howard College, MTB West wing, 1st Floor, German Programme, Media Room F251
About the film:
Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels ordered the production of Münchhausen in order to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the UFA film studio which released it. Goebbels was also inspired by and wished to compete with the lavish Technicolor pictures coming out of Hollywood at the time, The Wizard of Oz chief among them. The banned author, Erich Kästner, wrote much of the film’s screenplay. However, the pseudonym Kästner wrote under, “Berthold Bürger” (Bürger means “citizen”, but also refers to Gottfried August Bürger, one of the writers who made the Münchhausen tales popular), was left out of the credits. One suspiciously political statement of Kästner to be heard in the film: on the moon, where Münchhausen experiences a quite weird time warp, he realizes “Nicht meine Uhr ist kaputt, die Zeit ist kaputt!” (“My watch is not broken, it’s time that is broken”). The film was released in March, one month after Goebbels’ Sportpalast speech in response to the Soviet defeat of the German 6th Army. A demoralized Germany, which had begun to realize that the war might not end in victory, took to the film as a welcome diversion. It easily made back its exorbitant budget.

Some of the film’s footage was long thought to be missing. In the original March 1943 release the film was 134 minutes long. Over the years the length of the film gradually decreased until the 1954 version, which was 101 minutes long (with the generally screened version being a mere 88 minutes). Today a 114-minute version exists in the Murnau Foundation.

If this clever, intelligent and visually stunning 1943 German version of the Baron Münchhausen story was made elsewhere, and not under Nazi rule, it would surely rank as one of the great classic fantasy films. Films made in Germany during World War II received almost no worldwide distribution. Up until now, the only way to view Münchhausen was through faded video bootlegs. Kino Video, with the assistance of the F.W Murnau Foundation (who helped preserve Fritz Lang’s METROPOLIS) has released a handsomely restored version of this colorful, dreamlike fantasy treat.
For further details please contact:
Dr. Marion Pape
University of KwaZulu-Natal
School of Arts
German Programme
Durban, 4041
TEL: 031-260 1086/2380
FAX: 031-260 1242

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