The next screening is a powerful, intriguing and memorable film of renowned Austro-Hungarian director István Szabó (Mephisto, Colonel Redl) 


(1988, 140 min, dir. István Szabó, prod. Arthur Brauner, starring Klaus Maria Brandauer, ENGLISH SUBTITLES) 

TIME: 5.00 p.m.
VENUE: Howard College, MTB West Wing, 1st floor, German Programme, Media Room F251 

About the film:
Plot: In 1918, German soldier Karl Schneider is wounded in action. He winds up in the hospital of Dr Bettelheim who uses hypnosis to calm Karl’s anxiety and nightmares. Karl becomes fascinated with hypnosis and is soon able to employ it himself to calm a crazed soldier who is threatening to detonate a grenade. Amazed at Karl’s hypnotic abilities and gift of being able to predict things that are about to happen, Bettelheim places him on the stage. Choosing the name Erik Jan Hanussen, Karl’s remarkable predictions make him a sensation in post-War Berlin. But then his prediction that Adolf Hitler will become the Chancellor in 1933 unwillingly propels him into the political arena, even though he assiduously avoids taking sides and claims merely to tell what he sees. But when Hanussen predicts the burning of the Reichstag, this has him labeled as seditious by the Nazis.

One of the interesting things about the film is that Erik Jan Hanussen was a real person – a stage hypnotist, astrologer and supposed clairvoyant who operated a theatre in Berlin just before the Second World War. Although as soon as you read about the real Hanussen, the film here becomes an almost complete fiction if not whitewash. As opposed to the figure presented here, the real Hanussen was a charlatan who sought favour with Nazis and made predictions that Adolf Hitler was a great man and had high-ranking members of the Nazi Party, including reportedly Hitler himself, coming to seek divinations. The bizarre irony of this was that, despite his favour with Nazis, Hanussen was born a Jew but kept his birth well disguised. He was murdered under mysterious circumstances in 1933. A more historically realistic version of Hanussen was depicted in the Werner Herzog film Invincible (2001) where Hanussen (as played by Tim Roth) is seen as nasty and bullying. Herzog’s film concerns the also true character of a Jewish-Polish strongman that is hired as part of Hanussen’s act but caused a sensation when he refused to deny his ethnicity. An earlier version of the story, Hanussen (1955), co-starring Klaus Kinski, was made in West Germany, although is not available in English. (source: Richard Scheib 

Please note that there will be no German Monday Film Show during the semester break (24 – 28 Sept). The next film show will be on 1 October at 5.00 p.m. showing the Bavarian comedy – luckily with English subtitles 🙂 – “Wer früher stirbt ist länger tot – Grave Decisions (2006)

For further details lease contact: 

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

Posted on