"I think it is easier to be led than to lead." -- The German general staff put to the test in WWI !
"We won't be judged by the greatness of our victories but by the depth of our sacrifices." -- The cost of war in Operation Michael
In Operation Michael (1937), Karl Ritter turns his lens toward the Great War and focuses on the often agonizing decisions that must be made by commanders. It is unusual in depicting the war as experienced by the General staff, a perspective rarely taken in German cinema.
Operation Michael, launched on March 21, 1918, was a massive German effort to overwhelm the French and British before the Americans could arrive in force. The film Operation Michael focuses on the attempt to break a British stronghold, The Labyrinth. The General staff wrestles with mounting problems and the premature German occupation of the town of Beaurevoir triggers a British counterattack that threatens to short circuit the whole operation.
As the situation deteriorates, a German staff officer, Major zur Linden (Mathias Wieman) leaves headquarters and takes command at the front. Surrounded and with the operation in jeopardy, zur Linden must call in annihilation fire on Beaurevoir and on himself, which destroys not only the enemy, but also the remaining German troops in the town. Operation Michael is saved, but at what cost!
Ufa studio touted the film as a monument to German heroism speaking to both old and young, and suggested that cinema owners should turn to various party groups (including the German Labor Front, Hitler Youth and German Girls League) for help in promotion. The film premiered at the Nuremberg Party Day to great acclaim, and soon the Minister for Science, Training and Public Education directed that it should be taught in schools, accompanied by a 34-page lesson plan. Operation Michael also proved to be the rare foreign film that had great influence on Japanese cinema, providing the basis for the famous militarist film General, Staff and Soldiers (1942).
Based on the stage play and in collaboration with, Hans Fritz von Zwehl. Directed by Karl Ritter. Music by Herbert Windt. Starring Heinrich George, Mathias Wieman, and Willy Birgel. Germany, 1937, B&W, 80 minutes. German dialogue, English subtitles.
Digitally remastered Deluxe Version mastered in HD from original 35mm print.
About the director:
Directed by Karl Ritter who's contemporary WW2 propaganda feature filmmaking employed stunning actual battlefront footage and brought to Third Reich cinemas fast–paced, action–filled storylines championing ideological themes and military successes against all enemies of the Reich.
(See also Ritter book)
DVD SPECIAL FEATURES:
NTSC Region 0 encoding (Entire World)
- Two Historical Background Videos (22 min)
- Operation Michael (1937) & Heroic Self Sacrifice (6 min.) By William Gillespie
- The Battle of the Patron Saint of Germany, Michael the Archangel (16 min.) By Blaine Taylor
- Original Promotional Materials:
- 2 Illustrierter Film Kuriers with English Translations
- UFA Werberatschlag
- Posters, Production Stills, Misc. Ephemera
- Interactive Scene Selections
Libraries and Institutions Please Note: Educational Editions with PUBLIC PERFORMANCE RIGHTS and DIGITAL SITE LICENSES are available.
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