The Merry Wives of Windsor

(Die lustigen Weiber von Windsor)

GDR, 1950, 90 min, b&w
In German; no subtitles
Set Design
Costume Design
Music (Score)


For the corpulent nobleman Sir John Falstaff, the inn in the small English town of Windsor is the best of all places. Here he can indulge in excessive dining and intemperate drinking, as well as swagger and boast about his adventures, particularly those of an amorous nature. At present, he has designs on the two young women, Mistress Reich and Fluth, who, in turn, lead the paunchy protagonist mightily by the nose.


Mistress Reich indeed has much to deal with: her pretty daughter, Anna, has no lack of suitors and the parents cannot agree on who the future son-in-law should be. Anna, however, has already made her choice: she wants to marry young Master Fenton, a match which fails to suit her parents' plans. She plans a clandestine wedding ceremony in the forest.


But it so happens that the townspeople join forces on the same night to sour stout Falstaff's life in Windsor and to drive him out of town. To pull off this dirty trick, Mistresses Reich and Fluth arrange yet another rendezvous with Falstaff in the forest at midnight. The citizens disguise themselves and now appear to the love-sick Sir John as ghosts. This is more than he can take and, horror-stricken, he flees Windsor forever. 


The Berliner Staatskapelle and the choir of the Staatsoper Berlin are featured in this musical version of Shakespeare's high-spirited comedy. The film is an adaptation of the 1849 opera The Merry Wives of Windsor composed by Otto Nicolai with a libretto by Salomon Hermann Mosenthal. This witty and comedic masterpiece was questioned by the SED prior to its release due to the film's portrayal of societal relations.


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