Thursday, February 21, 2013

Mädchen in Uniform (1931)

I managed to see this German cult film about a girl dormitory recently and I thought it was worth blogging, even though it's not Tuesday and the Overlooked Films meme. The film is a rare example of an all-female cast.

The beautiful film by Leontine Sagan is a look at teenage girls' love life that develops in a dormitory governed by a tough mistress. There's also a young teacher who cares for the girls and at times lets them get near her - and one of the girls, a new one called Manuela, falls in love with her, with tragic results.

The film is both frank and tender, at times with striking visuals and sensual erotics, and it must've caused quite a buzz at the time. I think the film was also ahead of its time as for the girls' appearance. Many of them look like they could be from any decade, not just the Germany of the early thirties. Especially Hertha Thiele as Manuela is very stylish in her chignon (she's very pretty, too). It's tempting to read the film as a critic of dictatorship (under which Germany was soon to fall), but it also might be projecting later incidents into the past.

Mädchen in Uniform is a very interesting and beautiful film, not to be overlooked by anyone seriously interested in the history of cinema. It's possible the film has no official English title, IMDb gives these two: Girls in Uniform and Maidens in Uniform.

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