Helmut Käutner

Scen.: Helmut Käutner, Ernst Schnabel. F.: Igor Oberberg. M.: Wolfgang Wehrum. Scgf.: Herbert Kirchhoff. Mus.: Bernhard Eichhorn. Int.: Helmut Käutner (voce dell’automobile), Erich Schellow (Karl), Gert Schaefer (Willi), Winnie Markus (Sybille), Werner Hinz (Steffen), Karl John (Peter Kaiser), Franz Schafheitlin (Wolfgang Buschenhagen), Alice Treff (Elisabeth Buschenhagen), Hans Nielsen (Wolfgang Grunelius). Prod.: Helmut Käutner per Camera-Filmproduktion GmbH. 35mm. D.: 103’. 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

In jenen Tagen is among the very first productions ventured in the future Trizone. Käutner offers a historical panorama in seven anecdotes, detailing German sorrow, suffering and unexpected benevolence during the Nazi regime, with a car wreck as narrator (given a voice by l’auteur). All of which sounds initially unappealing: how could Germans not see themselves as the guilty party at that point in time? The answer is probably: how where they supposed to find a way back into the world without at least a glimpse of goodness? It’s all a matter of size, really, for Käutner, the genius of demi-tones and small gestures, never talks about anything grand and glorious, only about minute deeds ending in something good for one or two people. Käutner knew only too well that this is the proper dimension: for certainly many people did try to behave decently, albeit in tiny, almost private ways. In jenen Tagen never challenges the myth of Nazism as an all-encompassing horror. It also never suggests that this terror regime functioned only because almost everybody made their compromise-laden peace with it (an uncomfortable truth the FRG still has trouble accepting). Käutner is also clear about the fact that the good deeds he shows were exceptions to the rule – a few individual acts of defiance more than resistance. It’s the view of an enlightened bourgeois who understands that an audience living in rubble can best relate to something that is as small as a pebble or a bit of broken brick; it’s with these pieces that you begin to rebuild life, society, culture. That is probably another reason why In jenen Tagen is told in episodes: not only to stress how uncharacteristic each of these acts was, but to also to make them feel similar to shards and shreds. It’s easy to misunderstand In jenen Tagen as an attempt at exculpation. Far from it: Käutner merely tries to keep a faint flicker of life burning.

Olaf Möller

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