Bismarck DVD (Wolfgang Liebeneiner)
"One of Nazi Germany's Most Popular Film Biographies"
Bismarck stars Paul Hartmann (Ich klage an) as Otto von Bismarck, the creator of Germany’s Second Reich following the Franco-Prussian War of 1870. It follows the Prussian chancellor’s fortunes up to the founding of the German Empire in 1871. The film was directed by Wolfgang Liebeneiner (Ich klage an) and co-stars Friedrich Kayssler as Wilhelm I and Lil Dagover as Eugénie.
Ufa, Germany’s leading studio, produced the picture as one of their Staatsauftragsfilme (“state-produced films”), which indicated overt political content. Similarities between Bismarck, the architect of the Second German Reich, and Adolf Hitler, who created the Third Reich, are underscored throughout, but as all countries produce hagiographic works on their founding fathers, one is ill-advised to dismiss treatments of Frederick the Great or Bismarck with the pejorative label “propaganda” unless one is prepared to do the same with pictures about Washington or Lincoln.
Bismarck’s sumptuous production values made it the second most popular film made during the Third Reich. Only Veit Harlan’s Der grosse König, a profile of Frederick the Great starring Otto Gebühr, achieved greater success; Die Entlassung (The Dismissal) and Herbert Maisch’s Friedrich Schiller, the third and fourth most popular, were also lavish, celebratory biographies.
The picture was a huge hit in Germany, earning almost 2,000,000 Reichsmark. Dr. Goebbels’ propaganda ministry quickly commissioned a sequel, the superior Die Entlassung (The Dismissal), released the following year. Also directed by Wolfgang Liebeneiner, it starred the always-superb Emil Jannings as an elderly Otto von Bismarck.
Germany, 1940. Directed by Wolfgang Liebeneiner. Starring Paul Hartmann, Friedrich Kayssler, Lil Dagover, Käthe Haack, Maria Koppenhöfer. 118 mins. German dialogue, English subtitles.
DVD has switchable (optional) English subtitles.
Bonus Material: Historical Slideshow.
NTSC Region 0 encoding (Entire World)
Libraries and Institutions Please Note: Educational Editions with PUBLIC PERFORMANCE RIGHTS and DIGITAL SITE LICENSES are available.