Thursday, September 05, 2013

“The Triumph Of A Genius”

An outtake from “Der Triumph eines Genies”, a 1940 German film released at the height of German conquest.

The film is a biographic depiction of the early years of Friedrich Schiller, more or less ending with his first dramatic triumph, “The Robbers”.

I do not believe the film has an especially poor reputation, although it has never been considered one of the classics of world cinema.

Some cinema scholars have argued that the film was made in order to invite a comparison between the genius of Schiller and the supposed genius of Hitler. Other cinema scholars have argued that the film, in truth, undercut the Nazi regime, celebrating both freedom and free will. Neither side has offered compelling evidence in support of its view.

I suspect the film, most likely, was merely a commercial project, fully in keeping with the biographical films Hollywood churned out by the dozen in the late 1930s and early 1940s. Such films were popular at the time, everywhere, and it may be unwise, in the absence of proof, to ascribe motives to a particular project.

Most German films released between 1933 and 1945 were nothing more than mindless entertainment; in that respect, German cinema was no different than cinema in Britain, Russia or the U.S.

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