Next on screen is another of Rainer Simon’s DEFA-masterpieces, a wonderful and witty comedy of the famous trickster in German folklore, subversively told in a time when the end of the GDR (communist East Germany) was not yet in sight
(1974, 91 min., dir. Rainer Simon, starring Winfried Glatzeder , ENIGLISH SUBTITLES)
DATE: 6 MAY
TIME: 5.00 p.m.
VENUE: Howard College, MTB West Wing 1st Floor, German Programme, Media Room F251
About the film:
In medieval Germany, the poor, witty, and rebellious trickster Till Eulenspiegel (Winfried Glatzeder) fools and cheats citizens, churchmen, and landlords. Although he is mostly concerned with his own interests, he also often helps the poor and weak. Eventually, he becomes the royal fool at the emperor’s court – an influential but dangerous position. The original script, written by Christa and Gerhard Wolf and planned as a two-part feature film, was ignored by officials for financial and political reasons. Rainer Simon was asked to re-write the script, but the production process which followed was dogged by censorship. Although officials tried to keep a low profile for the film when it was finally released, audiences welcomed it with overwhelming enthusiasm.
There may have been a real Till Eulenspiegel, born around 1300, but he could also be just a folktale. The world first learned of him thanks to the writings of a customs clerk named Hermann Bote, a Franciscan monk named Thomas Murner, and a popular chapbook about him that was printed in 1511 by Johannes Grüninger. The story of Till Eulenspiegel started in northern Germany and spread west through the Netherlands, Belgium, northern France, and even England, where he ended up in plays by Ben Jonson and Henry Porter.
Till comes from the grand old tradition of the Trickster—a wiseacre antihero who revels in pulling the wool over the eyes of others, revealing the foibles of mankind by playing the fool. The trickster myth stretches from the Classical Aesop fables, through Coyote of Native American mythology, through Brer Rabbit through the Zulu izinganekwane, to Bugs Bunny. These characters often specialize in taking advantage of people’s prejudices, assumptions, and greed, and they rarely seemed fazed by even the direst of circumstances. Using their wits, they always prevail, leaving their persecutors with egg on their faces. Till is often portrayed wearing the motley outfit of the court jester, and the humor in the Till Eulenspiegel stores is often bawdy and scatological.
Dr Marion Pape
Head, German Studies
University of KwaZulu-Natal
School of Arts
Tel: 0027-31-260 1086 / 2380
Fax: 0027-31-260 1242