This Monday’s screening is a film which has been forgotten for a long time but which is an excellent example for early post-war Vergangenheitsbewältigung – the German term for coming to terms with the past 

1949, 100 min., dir. Josef von Báky (Münchhausen), starring Fritz Kortner, Lina Carstens, English subtitles

DATE: 9 September 2013
TIME: 5.00 p.m.
VENUE: Howard College, MTB West Wing, 1st Floor, German Programme, Media Room F251

About the film:
Synopsis – An exiled Jewish professor, Mauthner (Kortner), receives a call back to his former German university after World War II. In Berlin, Mauthner seeks his estranged wife, Lina (Hofer), and viewers learn only then that they have a son who remained in Germany with his mother: Lina remarried and raised him as an Aryan without revealing who his real father was. Back at his university, a resentful faculty member is apparently planning some kind of action against Mauthner with the students, one of whom, Walter (Schröder), is also Mauthner’s son, although neither knows it.  Mauthner gives his (re-)inaugural lecture on a topic about which he last spoke at the university: Plato and the teachability of virtue. At the end of the lecture the vast majority of the German students deliberately refuse to applaud…. 

Director Josef von Baky’s The Last Illusion was the first post-war film released in both German and English versions, and celebrated the triumphant homecoming of the famous theatre and film actor, Fritz Kortner. After von Báky’s somewhat controversial ...and the Sky Above Us, The Last Illusion reflects how other so-called “rubble films” (Trümmerfilm) from the Western sectors began to cast stars as their male leads.  For instance, one critic observed that with Illusion von Báky was continuing the trend started with Sky Above:  a ‘Starfilm’ of international calibre. Kortner was one of the biggest stars of the Weimar stage and screen, having been a favourite of famed theatre director Max Reinhardt, and a regular player in films, including important pictures like Wiene’s The Hands of Orlac (1924) and Pabst’s Pandora’s Box (1929). Vilified by the Nazis for being Jewish, as well as for his theatrical and film work, Kortner left Germany in the early 1930s for England and then the United States, where he worked from 1933 to 1949 with relative success.  The Last Illusion was closely identified with the real-life exile of Kortner: its focus on the experience and homecoming of an exile also resonated with a number of prominent figures including Thomas Mann, Bertolt Brecht and Alfred Döblin. 

For more information on this topic, the film and Fritz Kortner read: and and

Looking forward to seeing you there!

For more details please contact: 
Dr Marion Pape
German Studies
University of KwaZulu-Natal
School of Arts
Durban, 4041
Tel: 0027-31-260 1086 / 2380
Fax: 0027-31-260 1242

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