Five Cartridges

(Fünf Patronenhülsen)

GDR, 1960, 85 min, b&w
In German; English subtitles
Set Design
Costume Design
Music (Score)
Music (Performance)
Themes & Genres:


During the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), five International Brigade soldiers of different nationalities are given a crucial assignment as their commander lies dying: they are to smuggle top-secret information across enemy lines. 


The plot is based on scriptwriter Walter Gorrish’s own experience in the International Brigades. Ernst Busch, a famous singer and actor (Kuhle Wampe, 1932), who also joined the International Brigades, sings the “Song of the Lincoln Battalion,” which became the anthem for veterans of the Battle of Jarama in 1937, particularly those from the Lincoln Battalion, founded by American volunteers. 


Shot mainly in Bulgaria and starring Academy nominee Armin Mueller-Stahl (The Flight, Shine, Jacob the Liar) and Manfred Krug (Trace of Stones), this film was the young Frank Beyer's stylistic tour de force.


1961 Prize for most effective representation of the spirit of proletarian internationalism (Walter Gorrish), CSSR Worker's Film Festival

Press comments

“Francisco Franco would surely not have wanted to see this East German movie about the Spanish Civil War.”
— Javier Venturi, Spanish Program, UMass Amherst


“A film about the Spanish Civil War in the form of a Western.”
— Ralf Schenk, Das zweite Leben der Filmstadt Babelsberg


“The aims of Five Cartridges exhibit strong parallels to Ken Loach’s Land and Freedom.”
— Stefan Deines, Erinnern und Erzählen


“A captivating action drama.”
— Film Archiv Austria


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