Sog.: dal romanzo omonimo (1924) di Joseph Roth. Scen.: Wolfgang Staudte. F.: Albert Benitz. M.: Alice Ludwig. Scgf.: Mathias Matthies, Ellen Schmidt. Mus.: Siegfried Franz. Int.: Josef Meinrad (Andreas Pum), Erna Schickel-Wegrostek (la vedova Blumisch), Hans Putz (Willi), Ida Krottendorf (Klara), Erwin Linder (Vinzenz Topp), Fritz Eckhardt (Hans Arnold), Rolf Kutschera (Ramharter), Julius Mitterer (il sorvegliante), Helmut Janatsch (il narratore). Prod.: Helmut Käutner, Wolfgang Staudte per Freie Film Produktion GmbH & Co., Fernseh-Allianz GmbH DCP.
Die Rebellion was Staudte’s first work for television – the medium for which most of his œuvre was made (pace the 30s commercials). Staudte’s move towards TV is commonly seen as a fall from grace, or as if he’d been sentenced to forced labour in the popular culture equivalent of a lead mine. This view (wilfully?) ignores that television in the 1950s and until deep into the 1960s was, at least in parts, regarded as something of an avant-garde sphere of production (and also the most FRG of media); TV was the place to be for everybody with artistic ambitions and a will to engage with the latest developments in literature, theatre and the arts. With Die Rebellion, Staudte joined the experiment.
Staudte’s activities in television were motivated by the need to make money, first to help the fledgling Freie Film Produktion after the Kirmes box-office failure and then to pay off his Heimlichkeiten-debts (more on that further down). But this shouldn’t distract us from the fact that Staudte would most likely, looking at the situation of FRG cinema from the mid-60s on, have moved towards TV anyway, as that’s where the possibilities lay for making the politically engaged films he believed in. It was also a good place to cause trouble, as he did with his first episode of Tatort: Tote brauchen keine Wohnung (1973), an anti-gentrification tract that was shelved for almost 20 years after its original airing.
At first glance it appears that Staudte took whatever came along: episodes for the legendary cop show Der Kommissar, as well as a season of the more obscure white-collar-crime series Kommissariat 9 (1975); prestige miniseries such as his two Jack London-adaptations Der Seewolf (1971) and Lockruf des Goldes (1975), both in tandem with Sergiu Nicolaescu, his elegy for a dying way of life and work, MS Franziska (1977), or the migration epic Die Pawlaks. Eine Geschichte aus dem Ruhrgebiet (1982); and in-between it all the occasional teleplay such as Marya Sklodowska-Curie. Ein Mädchen, das die Welt veränderte (1972), Lehmanns Erzählungen (1975) or Prozeß Medusa (1976). However, a closer look reveals that Staudte simply continued in his preferred genres and tones, doing what he was always doing: injecting healthy doses of critical observations, thoughts and ideas into finely crafted entertainments, and jumping at the chance to let rip and speak some plain political sense. That’s what he does here in Die Rebellion, whose hero Andreas Pum has to find out that the State is cruel, bureaucracy treacherous, the law merciless – and Hell the only desirable place to go after death, as that’s the place farthest away from the Heaven constantly evoked by all those Earthly institutions he has learned to hate.