T. alt.: Wenn der Morgen kommt. Sog.: dal racconto omonimo (1929) di Willy Kramp. F.: Götz Neumann. Scen.: Frank Leberecht. M.: Klaus Dudenhöfer. Scgf.: Johannes Ott. Mus.: Peter Thomas. Int.: Ronald Dehne (Bernd), Elke Aberle (Elli), Dieter Kirchlechner (Heiner), Ulrich von Bock (Conny), Willy Leyrer (Ellis Vater), Hans Schalla (Dalmann), Helga Siemers (Dame). Prod.: Hermann Schwerin per Fono-Film GmbH 35mm
Das Lamm is arguably the oddest among Staudte’s odd ones out – a status that befits the Bunyanesque tale of a strange one who learns some of life’s tougher lessons during a walk with love and death and a very white sheep through the dusk, night and dawn of a Ruhr valley, which often looks like a fairy-tale world.
Almost everything about this production is curious. Let’s start with the author of the film’s source material: Willy Kramp, a writer close to the local Protestant establishment, best remembered (well…) for having been an occasional presence in the oldest religious programme on FRG TV, Das Wort zum Sonntag. The screenwriter is yet another case: Frank Leberecht, director of two politically loaded mountaineering reportages, Nanga Parbat. Ein Kampfbericht der deutschen Himalaya-Expedition 1934 (1935) and Eingeschneit in Lager IV (1943), as well as co-director alongside Gerhard Fieber of the Nazi-friendly animation classic Armer Hansi (1943). After 1945 he worked only on educational films and sponsored shorts, among the latter group classics such as Otto Martini’s Impuls unserer Zeit (1959) and Ferdinand Khittl’s Abenteuer Farbe (1969). For the press back then, the most noteworthy credit, if only for political reasons, was the director of photography: DEFA-stalwart Götz Neumann, who had left the GDR in 1961 and was finally granted a chance to work for an FRG production.
But Das Lamm is also a curiosity in terms of its setting: Considering the Ruhr valley’s importance for the young nation as its industrial heartland, thus main source of wealth, it’s weird that comparatively few films were shot there, not even the ones set there which makes Das Lamm very special. No other film of that period shows so much of that landscape: embracing, celebrating it for all its contrasts, all its contradiction. Das Lamm reveals the fiery beauty of its steel mills as well as the pastoral peacefulness of the wide meadows, the poor but proud workers’ settlements and the villas that captains of industry built as monuments to their glory.