The Benthin Family
|Directed by||Slatan Dudow |
|Produced by||Adolf Fischer|
|Written by||Johannes R. Becher, Kurt Barthel, Ehm Welk|
|Music by||Ernst Roters|
|Cinematography||Robert Baberske, Karl Plintzner, Walter Roßkopf|
|Edited by||Ilse Voigt|
|Distributed by||Progress Film|
|15 September 1950|
Theo and Gustav Benthin are two brothers who operate a smuggling network: Theo, a factory director in East Germany, illegally transfers goods to his brother on the other side of the border, and the latter sells them in West Germany. The two also employ another pair of brothers, Peter and Klaus Naumann. Theo is caught by the People's Police; Gustav cannot compete in the wild capitalist market without the cheap merchandise from the East and his business collapses. Peter Naumann moves to the Federal Republic, but there he finds only unemployment and is eventually to join the French Foreign Legion. Klaus remains in the East and finds a promising job as a steel worker.
The Benthin Family was DEFA's first major "mission film", with a clear, state-directed political message, although pictures that presented narratives hostile to West Germany and to the West in general were already made, albeit with smaller budgets and less government attention.
Three directors - Slatan Dudow, Richard Groschopp and Kurt Maetzig - were instructed by Socialist Unity Party of Germany to work on the film. Later, none of them was willing to accept responsibility for the outcome.
East German cinema expert Joshua Feinstein wrote that The Benthin Family "...seems to have been an unmitigated disaster." The SED newspaper Neues Deutschland praised the film, noting that "its greatness lies in its realization of the greatness of our life today..." while contrasting them with "the other side... where the West German youth... are processed for service as mercenaries for the imperialists." At 1952, the censure demanded that a scene in which a drunk worker appeared be removed before the film was allowed to be re-screened, since it did not comply with "depicting independent, intelligent members of the proletariat".
- Joachim-Felix Leonhard (editor). Medienwissenschaft: Ein Handbuch Zur Entwicklung Der Medien Und Kommunikationsform. Volume 15.2. Mouton De Gruyter (2002). ISBN 978-3-11-016326-1. Page 1238.
- Dagmar Schittly. Zwischen Regie und Regime. Die Filmpolitik der SED im Spiegel der DEFA-Produktionen. ISBN 978-3-86153-262-0. Page 59.
- Ralf Schenk. Das zweite Leben der Filmstadt Babelsberg. DEFA- Spielfilme 1946 - 1992. ISBN 978-3-89487-175-8. Page 57.
- Joshua Feinstein. The Triumph of the Ordinary: Depictions of Daily Life in the East German Cinema, 1949-1989. ISBN 978-0-8078-5385-6. Page 31.
- Miera Liehm, Antonin J. Liehm . The Most Important Art: Soviet and Eastern European Film After 1945. ISBN 0-520-04128-3. Page 89.
- Familie Benthin on 2001.de.