Kameradschaft Screen 6 articles



Kameradschaft Poster
  • G.W. Pabst's 1931 film recasts an actual incident—a mine disaster on the Franco-German border in 1906—into a parable on international relations; the “little people” transcend their political differences in helping each other. It may be naive and sentimental, but Pabst's filming packs a punch—the action is well-nigh irresistible. The pessimistic ending, in which the boundaries are reestablished, has been clipped from many prints.

  • It merits the value with which Potamkin invests it, not least because its humanism is linked so indissolubly – and so improbably – with its technical achievement. Seldom do the two manage to coexist in equal measure – “a triumph of art over humanity,” Robert Warshow famously labeled the Soviet cinema from which Pabst drew evident inspiration – yet in the case of Kameradschaft, the astonishing skill of its making is wholly attuned to its moral purpose.

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    Film Comment: Max Nelson
    January 03, 2017 | January/February 2017 Issue (p. 11)

    You sense that Pabst could only have hit on such deep wells of visual resourcefulness—the vigor of his tracking shots; the vividness with which he shot faces; the generous place he reserved in his lighting for slim gradations of gray—as long as he was working in the service of a strong and deeply held moral idea.

  • The great perils and the fraternity of strangers so admired by Hugo, the bulky materiality of the world as well as its precariousness, the bricks and mortar of Georg Wilhelm Pabst’s classic humanistic pamphlet. Clamminess and suffocation down in the tunnels while crowds of townspeople wait grimly by the gates, the proletarian outrage of Soviet montage mated to Germanic camera movement for a burly surge of communal urgency.

  • Pabst's images complicate the narrative, as the boss is shown standing high on a top stair while a middleman stands closer to the bottom of the stairwell with the miners—a visual concept that illuminates the caste structures which go unmentioned in the dialogue. These contradictions in aesthetic and content inform Kameradschaft with an emotional ambiguity that might not have arisen from a more explicitly liberal film.

  • It is certainly not short on sentiment, of the most pandering sort. And yet it fails to dissolve into treacle because the performances are so strong, the emotions so primal, the settings so austere. It is also a masterpiece of editing—the way it conveys simultaneity, seemingly accounts for the movements of an entire town, paces its set pieces along a continuum of gradually increasing tension. It flies along breathlessly, as gripping as any action picture.

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