Hitlerjunge Quex

Hans Steinhoff

Sog.: da un romanzo di Karl Aloys Schenzinger; Scen.: Bobby E. Lüthge, Karl Aloys Schenziger, Baldur Von Schirach; F.: Konstantin Irmen-Tschet; Mo.: Milo Harbich; Ass. Op.: Fred Fernau, Erich Scmidtke; Co.: Berta Grützmacher, Paul Haupt; Mu.: Hans-Otto Borgmann; Su.: Erich Leistner, Walter Tjaden; Int.: Jurgen Ohlsen (Heini Volker), Heinrich George (Vater Volker), Claus Clausen (Kass), Rortraut Richter (Gerda), Hermann Speelmans (Stoppel), Hans Richter (Franz), Ernst Beher (Kowalski), Hansjoachim Buttner (Artzt), Rudolf Platte, Hans Deppe, Anna Muller-Lincke (una vicina dei Volker), Karl Meixner (Wild); Prod: Karl Ritter; Pri. pro.: 19 settembre 1933 
35mm. D.: 95′. Bn.

T. it.: Italian title. T. int.: International title. T. alt.: Alternative title. Sog.: Story. Scen.: Screenplay. F.: Cinematography. M.: Editing. Scgf.: Set Design. Mus.: Music. Int.: Cast. Prod.: Production Company. L.: Length. D.: Running Time. f/s: Frames per second. Bn.: Black e White. Col.: Color. Da: Print source

Film Notes

Hitlerjunge Quex is a remarkable early example of Third Reich cinema, and almost a rarity – Nazis were seldom shown in fiction films because Goebbels soon noticed that the rightful place of people on the march was in the streets, not on screen. The film has a place of honor in our series already as a demonstration of how successfully a film medium adapts to cannibalisation – meaning here the free theft of proletarian heritage (the style of Pabst et al., or films like Jutzi’s Mutter Krausens Fahrt ins Glück or Pudovkin’s Deserter) or the Machiavellian trick of taking the actor Heinrich George, the proletarian symbol, directly from films like the recent Berlin Alexanderplatz, and by his sheer presence giving credibility to the superiority of the New Order.

The degree of falsification is almost dreamlike: Hitlerjunge Quex is a handbook on brainwashing. No wonder the film was scrutinized intensively by U.S. specialists like Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson to understand the German psyche and the heated flow of social and political changes.

Heini Volker, nicknamed Quex (“quick silver”) was in real life a youngster – more or less a non-entity – whose name was Herbert Norkus and who was murdered in the streets, a proper fate for becoming a notorious martyr. Propaganda about the family – according to the Nazis, one of the lost treasures during the Weimar years – was mobilized as the cornerstone of the film. A brutal communist father confronting a blond, blue-eyed boy was a captivating image. The scene where the boy refuses the order to sing the “Internationale” must be one of the key sequences of all the entanglements of socialism/antisocialism in cinema.

Women had a subjugated role in Nazi cinema. Natural beauty was almost played down, at least compared to Hollywood’s perfumed masquerade; plain völkisch was enough for them. On a more serious level they weren’t allowed to do much either. The suicide of Heini’s mother is a famous example. It is almost routine, as the whole episode – gas, in which Heini is involved – somehow forgets the poor woman and in- stead becomes a ritual glorification of the Hitler Jugend: the new uniform replaces the loss of his mother. Family relation- ships have been more than generously compensated.

In spite of its plasticity and a good degree of professionalism, Hitlerjunge Quex remains more or less an artful pastiche by a mediocre director, never reaching the level of the directors he steals from – the closest similarities are with a kitsch- oriented visual patchwork well known by colleagues like Luis Trenker and Arnold Fanck. This might indicate an overly negative statement of Nazi cinema – along with much hack work, most of the ace directors (Harlan, Ucicky, Ritter) created at least one or two remarkable films. And so also did the Hans Steinhoff who might have been the most talented of the bunch, especially with Die Geierwally (1940) but also the notorious Ohm Krüger as proof to complement Hitlerjunge Quex.

Peter von Bagh

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