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Der Untertan (The Subject, or: The Kaiser's Lackey)

1951, b/w, 105 min. Feature
Dir.: Wolfgang Staudte
Script: Wolfgang Staudte, Fritz Staudte
Camera: Robert Baberske
Music: Horst Hanns Sieber
Cast: Werner Peters, Paul Esser, Blandine Ebinger, Erich Nadler

VHS-NTSC, English subtitles:
(for 16mm see Other Distributors)

Synopsis:

Diederich He▀ling is scared of everything and everyone. But as he grows up, he comes to realize that he has to offer his services to the powers-that-be if he wants to wield power himself. His life motto now runs: bow to those at the top and tread on those below. In this way, he always succeeds: as a student in a duel-fighting student fraternity and as a businessman in a paper factory. He cajoles the obese district administrative president von Wulkow and wins his favor. He slanders his financial rivals and hatches a plot with the social democrats in the town council. On his honeymoon with his rich wife Guste, he finally finds a chance to do his beloved Kaiser a favor. And when a memorial to the Kaiser is unveiled in the town where Diederich lives and works, he delivers the address. He stands behind the lectern in the pouring rain, saluting "his" Kaiser. The crowd is dispersed. Everything is laid in ruins... An historical satire of biting sharpness and grand comedy. Staudte's wonderfully successful adaptation of Heinrich Mann's world-famous novel has become a film classic.

 

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