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Steppenwolf is a 1974 film adaptation of Hermann Hesse's 1927 novel Steppenwolf. The film made heavy use of visual special effects that were cutting-edge at the time of its release. It follows the adventures of a half-man, half-animal individual named Harry Haller, who in the Germany of the 1920s, is depressed, resentful of his middle class station, and wants to die not knowing the world around him. He then meets two strange people who introduce him to life and a bizarre world called the Magic Theater.

Steppenwolf official release.jpg
Directed byFred Haines
Written byFred Haines
Based onSteppenwolf
by Hermann Hesse
StarringMax von Sydow
Dominique Sanda
Pierre Clementi
Music byGeorge Gruntz
Release date
  • 1974 (1974)
Running time
106 minutes
CountryUnited States
United Kingdom


Film rightsEdit

The film took seven years of complicated pre-production for its producers Melvin Abner Fishman and Richard Herland. Fishman, a student of Jung and alchemy, wanted the film to be "the first Jungian film"[1] and built up relationships with the Hesse family that allowed the film rights of the book to be released. Herland raised the finance.


Directors Michelangelo Antonioni and John Frankenheimer, as well as the actor James Coburn were all touted to direct the film. In the end, the film was directed by its screenwriter, Fred Haines.[1]


Although Walter Matthau, Jack Lemmon and Timothy Leary were all proposed as playing the main role of Harry Haller, the role eventually went to Max von Sydow. In the other principal parts, Pierre Clementi played Pablo, Dominique Sanda took the role of Hermine and Carla Romanelli was Maria. Although the film is in English, none of the principal actors were native English speakers.


Finally, the rights to the finished film were entirely given over to Peter Sprague, its financier. A "marketing disaster" followed, which included the colour of the prints coming out incorrectly. For decades the film remained little seen except for brief runs in art film houses.


  1. ^ a b Fabian, Jenny (April 21, 2000), "Jung hearts run free", The Guardian, London.

External linksEdit