The Hangman's Brother

(Des Henkers Bruder)

GDR, 1978, 81 min, color
In German; no subtitles
Set Design
Costume Design
Music (Score)
Production Company


Ever since his brother became the local hangman, Christoph and his family are looked down upon in their village. On their way to sell livestock one day, they are attacked by the soldiers of the local noble, von Scharfenstein. They defend themselves with the help of the carters Joss and Hieronymus and take the nobleman's son captive.


Von Scharfenstein's revenge is terrible: he burns down the family farm and Christoph is the sole survivor. The boy is taken in by Joss and Hieronymus, who teach him to farm, read, and fight. They include him in their plan to revolt against the tyrannical nobility. When the uprising is betrayed, Christoph and his friends are brought before his brother, the hangman.


This historical children’s film, set in a poor 16th-century farming village, is based on a novel by Hanna Heide Kraze.



1979 “Golden Sparrow” Children’s Film Festival, East Germany 


Press comments

“Direct, multi-dimensional, sensuous, the story appears on screen as captured through the eyes of the boy.”    —Union 


“This socially critical film paints an extreme and revealing picture of class differences under feudalism.”    —Lexikon des internationalen Films


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