Next screening is a German re-imagining of the British biggest maritime disasters which was produced by the Propaganda Dept. of the Nazi-party in 1943 and which in itself is an incredible disaster-ridden story
(1943, dir. Herbert Selpin, 85 min, starring Sybille Schmitz, English subtitles)
DATE: 19 MARCH 2012
TIME: 5 p.m.
VENUE: Howard College, MTB West Wing, 1st Floor, German Program, Media Room F251
About the film:
During World War 2, the German film industry, firmly under the control of the Nazis, made a propaganda version of the disaster called Titanic. It was one of the most expensive German films made until that time. By then, the war had turned against the Third Reich and average Germans were experiencing many deprivations in food, gasoline and other resources. Yet, the film was a pet project of Hitler confidant and powerful minister of propaganda Joseph Goebbels. The fact that the real disaster highlighted British incompetence and corruption appealed to Goebbels and there was considerable opportunity for dramatic license.

Titanic was a flop when released. Regular bombing raids on German cities by the combined American and British Air Forces did not whet the public’s appetite for a disaster. The Nazi censors yanked it from circulation when they discovered that German audiences were still far too sympathetic towards the British passengers despite the obvious propaganda quotient. The propaganda value also backfired as the Titanic in the film could easily have been interpreted as an allegory of the Third Reich itself.
Titanic was, however, quite successful when shown in occupied France. Herbert Selpin was the director of Titanic and he had made several earlier distinguished films. Selpin resisted many efforts by the Nazis to exaggerate British cowardice even more than appeared in the final film. He openly displayed his contempt for his Nazi masters and was murdered (or committed suicide) in his prison cell on the orders of Goebbels, having never seen his last film. [For those who are interested in the story and the film: also has good information on this film]
For further information 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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