Slatan Dudow


Slatan Dudow

Slatan Theodor Dudow ( _bg. Златан Дудов, Zlatan Dudov) (January 30, 1903 - July 12, 1963) was a Bulgarian born film director and screenwriter who made a number of films in the Weimar Republic and East Germany.

Dudow was born in Zaribrod, Bulgaria, but emigrated to Berlin in 1922 with the intention of becoming an architect. He gave up this plan and began studying theatre in 1923, first under Emmanuel Reicher, and then, from 1925 to 1926, as a Theatre Studies student at the university, under Max Herrmann. He worked together with Leopold Jessner and Juergen Fehling, served as a chorus member under Erwin Piscator, and was a director's assistant to Fritz Lang on the production of "Metropolis (film)". During this time, Dudow also ran a bookstore with his wife and worked as a foreign correspondent for a Bulgarian newspaper. In 1929 he visited the Soviet Union, where he met Vladimir Mayakovsky and Sergei Eisenstein in Moscow; it was through these meetings that Dudow eventually met Bertolt Brecht. After his return from the USSR, Dudow directed Brecht's theatrical piece "Die Massnahme", "The Decision", and began his film directing career. He was commissioned by the left-wing, Soviet-German production company Prometheus-Film to direct a short film "Wie der Berliner Arbeiter wohnt" (1929) as part of the documentary series "Wie lebt der Berliner Arbeiter?" Dudow's first feature, "Kuhle Wampe (To Whom Does the World Belong?)("1932) was a collaboration with Brecht (who provided the script and helped to finance the project), Hanns Eisler, and Ernst Ottwalt. It was originally banned because it was perceived as being politically subversive.

As a member of the Communist Party of Germany (Kommunistische Partei Deutschlands, or KPD), Dudow was arrested by the Nazis shortly after they took power in January 1933. As a Bulgarian citizen, he was soon expelled from Germany; but for unknown reasons (to which Brecht alludes in a July 1933 letter to the Russian playwright Sergei Tretyakov), he was unable to return to Bulgaria. He made his way to France sometime in 1934, and remained there under constant threat of expulsion until 1939/1940, when he went to Switzerland. In Paris, Dudow completed the film "Seifenblasen", which he had begun working on in Berlin, and also staged Brecht's "Furcht und Elend des Dritten Reichs". He also began working on his comedy "Der Feigling". In Switzerland, Dudow continued work on three further dramatic comedies, "Das Narrenparadies", "Der leichtgläubige Thomas", and "Der Weltuntergang". Several of his plays, along with theoretical writings on drama, were later published in the GDR under the pseudonym "Stefan Brodwin".

After returning to Berlin in 1946 as one of the founding directors of the DEFA studios, Dudow began adapting his play 'Der Weltuntergang' for the screen. Despite the symbolic capital Dudow brought to DEFA as a renowned Weimar-era left-wing filmmaker, this first project was shelved by the authorities apparently because the film was deemed formalist." Dudow soon after produced a Socialist Realist melodrama, "Unser täglich Brot" (1949), and together with Kurt Maetzig took on the direction of another Socialist Realist family drama 'Familie Benthin' (1950). Dudow's 1952 film "Frauenschicksale", his first film in color film (motion picture), which he both wrote and directed, was popular with audiences, but was criticized by both Party authorities and Communist women's organizations for its depiction of women. Nevertheless, featuring a cast of important women actors of various generations (including Lotte Loebinger, Maly Delschaft, and Sonja Sutter), it is in large part its depiction of women, as well as of the circumstances of the divided city of Berlin, that make the film so interesting for viewers today. In 1953, Dudow submitted a treatment for another Socialist Realist film dealing with the problem of a divided Germany, "Singende Jugend" (Singing Youth), but this film, too, was never made. His next film, "Stärker als die Nacht" (1954), was written by the Communist writers Kurt Stern and Jeanne Stern; it deals with the Communist resistance in Germany during the Third Reich and is apparently based on the Sterns' own experience. "Der Hauptmann von Köln" (1956), a rather bleak satire featuring Rolf Ludwig, Christel Bodenstein, and Erwin Geschonneck, was adapted by Dudow, along with Henryk Keisch and Michael Tschesno-Hell, from Carl Zuckmayer's play "Der Hauptmann von Köpenick". The film delivers a blasting critique of West Germany's military buildup under Konrad Adenauer and its institutional continuity with the Third Reich. Dudow's most famous GDR film, "Verwirrung der Liebe" (1959) is a big-budget, color(ful), Shakespearean romp written by Dudow and starring the young Angelica Domröse, Annekathrin Bürger, and Willi Schrade, that finds him directing somewhat gentler satiric energies toward the GDR itself. Dudow was widely considered a "film school of one" during the 1950s, and was a mentor to both Gerhard Klein and Heiner Carow. Dudow's final film, "Christine" (1963), which was also written by him, was shot in black-and-white and accordingly takes a much darker look at social problems and the position of women in the GDR. Dudow died in a car crash in Berlin while it was being shot, and the film was never finished. (A partial reconstruction, based on a very rough cut, was undertaken in the 1970s and "premiered" -- for one screening only -- in 1974.)

Filmography

* Current Problems: How the Berlin Worker Lives (Zeitprobleme: Wie der Berliner Arbeiter wohnt) 1930;

* To Whom Does the World Belong? (Kuhle Wampe, oder Wem gehört die Welt?) 1932;

* Soap Bubbles (Seifenblasen) 1934;

* Our Daily Bread (Unser täglich Brot) 1949;

* Family Benthin (Familie Benthin) 1950;

* The Destinies of Women (Frauenschicksale) 1952;

* Stronger than the Night (Stärker als die Nacht) 1954;

* The Captain of Cologne (Der Hauptmann von Köln) 1956;

* Confusion of Love (Verwirrung der Liebe) 1959;

* Christine (Christine; unfinished) 1963 (reconstructed 1974).

External links

* [http://defafilmlibrary.com/article_info.php?cArticlePath=1&articles_id=24 Brief DEFA biography]


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