October 04, 2006

Kuhle Wampe or Who Owns the World? Brecht and Weimar Cinema

*Kuhle Wampe or Who Owns the World *1932 Dir Slatan Dudow

Screenplay by Bertolt Brecht

The music is by Hans Eisler. follow the link to listen to a brief extract.

Hans Eisler

More extracts from Eisler’s radical music can be found here

The discordant and militant music within the score emphasises the harshness of the city environment where mass unemployment is the norm. Every day the men gather with thier bicycles near the river hoping to hear of a job. It is literally survival of the fittest as the men cycle desparately when they hear of a hint of a job.

Kuhle Wampe Bicycles

The film was probably the only directly communist film made during this period. Unemployment was still rising in 1932 towards its maximum of 8 million people. The spring and summer of 1932 was an important electoral time as there were both Reichstag and Presidential elections in that year. It was in the early summer that Hitler and the Nazis gained their highest vote of over 13 million people. By November their vote was on the wane as hints of economic recovery began to relieve the pressure.

For all the solidarity heartily sung for at the end of the film by several thousand communist youth the fact that the KPD and the Social Democrats were unable to combine their strength eventually was a causal factor in the rise of Hitler to power.

Unlike the Threepenny Opera which Brecht had lost control of falling out with Pabst and leaving the film with a sour taste in the air between himself and Weill, Brecht had firm control of the script and style of the film-making.

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