Tilman Riemenschneider

GDR, 1958, 98 min, b&w
Music (Score)


This historical biographical film—shot by Eugen Klagemann (The Murderers Are among Us)—celebrates Tilman Riemenschneider, one of the greatest German sculptors of the late Middle Ages.


Circa 1525: Woodcarver Riemenschneider (1460-1531) enjoys his reputation as a successful artist and wealthy citizen; he is appreciated by his colleagues on Würzburg’s city council. Then the father of a young peasant girl is killed, and Riemenschneider starts advocating for peasants’ rights. This causes his friend and patron, Prince-Bishop Konrad von Thüngen, to turn his back on Riemenschneider, who, after the Peasant’s Revolt fails, is incarcerated and tortured in the Marienberg Fortress.


Tilman Riemenschneider’s story provided a perfect fit for how the legacy of German classical humanism was being adopted into East German cultural policies, as the film focuses on an artist who sided with the oppressed. It constitutes a valuable contribution to the discussion of art and power in East Germany in the late 1950s.

Press comments

 “From today’s point of view, Tilman Riemenschneider can be interpreted as a striking commentary on how critical artists were dealt with under Stalinism.”   –film.at

“The film shows the essential commitment of an artist. Although the film gives an imperfect sense of history, the performances are brilliant!”   –filmdienst.de


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