Kämpfer Borsty

Gustav Von Wangenheim

Scen.: Joris Ivens, Alfred Kurella, Gustav von Wangenheim; F.: Bentsion Monastyrsky; Mo.: Teo Otto; Scgf.: Helen van Dongen; Mu.: Hans Hauska; Su.: Konstantin Kowalskij, Alexej Mashistoff, Aleksei Mashistov, Kirill Nikitin; Int.: Lotte Loebinger (Fritz Lemkes), Bruno Schmidtsdorf (Fritz Lemke), Gregor Gog (Peters), Ingeborg Franke (Anna), Alesandr Timontayev, Robert Trösch (Otto), Alexander Granach (Rovelli), Alexander Geirot, Evgenia Mezentseva (Donna), Lyudmila Glazova (Ursula), Ernst Busch (Giudice), Lothar Wolf (Dr. Hillstedt), Nikolai Akimov (Heise), Pawel Pashkoff; Prod.: Jakob Freund; Pri. pro.: 1936
35mm. L.: 2541 m. D.: 93′. 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

Kämpfer Borsty is a film that is as anomalous as it is important for the history (of film) of the 1930s: directed by Gustav von Wangenheim, the great film and political theater actor-director of Weimar and one of the first militant Communists, it was one of the very few films shot in the Soviet Union by German specialized workers and actors, anti-Nazi already in exile before the great purges and the fatal Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. Kämpfer works on two fronts: from the world of Soviet exile it tries to tell the story of the other Germany that opposed the Nazi dictatorship, with an almost documentary quality and partially escaping being crude Stalinist propaganda. The dramatic action, which included writing by Joris Ivens, has a solid, brilliant core – the Reichstag fire and Georgi Dimitrov’s trial – that branches out into an intricate story about group resistance and passionate individual political awakening. Between Pudvokin-like aesthetic choices – the unforgettable proletarian mother played by Lotte Loebinger – and the first steps towards a powerful socialist realism, Kämpfer is, ex post, the unhappy fruit of a generation of militant artists squashed by the regime – almost every member of the troupe and cast was persecuted ruthlessly – deceiving themselves twofold: believing anti-Nazi resist- ance in Germany and a human form of Communism in the USSR were both possible. The glorified victory of Dimitrov at the Leipzig trial masks with unresolved ambiguity the downfall of ideals that would took place with the Moscow trials of ’36-’38.

Federico Rossin

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