Erich Kästner – The other face

As children we practically devoured “The Flying Classroom”, “Emil and the Detectives”, and “The Parent Trap” – with a flashlight under the covers. Today we ask ourselves, who was this man, Erich Kästner, who always smiled at us from the photograph on the book jacket? What kind of person resides behind the cheerful, witty, and at times aggressive façade? What is the deal with “his doppelganger” and the “other Erich” that he frequently talks and writes about?

News

  • 12/2016 - "Erich Kästner - The other face" - Premiere on New Year's Eve

    Our docu-drama “Erich Kästner – The other face” celebrates its German TV-premiere on December 31st at 4:50 pm on ARTE. As [...]

    Our docu-drama "Erich Kästner - The other face" celebrates its German TV-premiere on December 31st at 4:50 pm on ARTE. As children we practically devoured “The Flying Classroom,” “Emil and the Detectives,” and “The Parent Trap” – with a flashlight under the covers. Today we ask ourselves, who was this man, Erich Kästner, who always smiled at us from the photograph on the book-jacket? What kind of person resides behind the cheerful, witty, and at times aggressive façade? What is the deal with “his doppelganger” and the “other Erich” that he frequently talks and writes about?


Erich Kästner – The other face

At first appearance Erich Kästner seems to be a transparent person, easy to grasp: a clever sceptic, who’s every spoken and written word can be taken with a grain of salt. A lyrical chronologist, who never wants to stop believing “that people could become better, if you entreat them, insult them, and laugh at them often enough.” And an exceptionally gifted children’s author who absorbs and records children’s urban slang and haunts like no other. His clear language and sober humour has whisked children and youths off into the world of literature – from the 1920s up to today.

The film, „Erich Kästner – The other Face“ delves into the world of a man living and writing on a razor-edge for decades. It is a surprising sight: even as a child he prevents his depressive mother from committing suicide.

A military instructor mistreats the recruit Kästner during World War I so severely that he suffers a lasting heart damage. In 1920s Berlin the author Kästner experiences a decade unleashed with debauchery, street fighting, and economic miseries. As the Nazis burn his books and poems, he watches anonymously on the Berlin Opernplatz, clenched fists in his coat pockets. Yet Erich Kästner remains in Hitler’s new Germany, wants to be the eyewitness and write about it afterwards. It is a life on the brink. While he serves the entertainment industry in the Third Reich, writing under a pseudonym and occasionally sitting at the same table with the devils, privately he writes drafts for his drawer. These are the alarmed personal interrogations of a man who feels that he is in the act of losing his integrity to the powers that be. “He was dead but lived on,” writes Kästner about his doppelganger in his “Blue Book”. He realises quickly that he will not emerge from the mud of history with a clean slate. This is the shadow he will be forced to survive with.

In post-war Germany Erich Kästner does not write the novel about Nationalsocialism. He cannot cope with it, the images from the concentration camps render him impotent and, at times, speechless. Instead he gathers material, newspaper cut-outs about doppelgangers. The consciousness that he hid himself in the Third Reich practically petrifies him. He resorts to alcohol and ensnarls himself in affairs with women.

In the 1960s he seems to realise that he may have remained in Nazi Germany, but did not write anything he should be ashamed about. He cannot get away from alcohol, but he rediscovers his words. He speaks out against rearmament, warning the people of the Federal Republic of Germany of the temptations of a totalitarian regime. The people listen to him, young and old. Instinctively his listeners recognise that this smiling man with his famous wink has gazed into the abyss at numerous times in his life. His readers sense it still today – the two sides and the historic faults in his biography, beneath the handy surface. This makes him one of the most interesting writers in the 20th century, and that is why still today children read his books under the covers in the light of a flashlight, and people cite his poems without knowing that the words are his.

Erich Kästner: Matthias Bundschuh
Luiselotte Enderle: Lisa Wagner
Ida Kästner: Henriette Schmidt
Emil Kästner: Tomas Spencer
Corneila Battenberg: Clelia Sarto
Erich Ohser: Daniel Nerlich

Assistant Director: Florian Schwombeck
DOP: Johannes Straub
2nd DOP: Tom Bresinsky
DOP Assistant: Max Rainer
Sound Editor: Hagen Waechter
Film Editor: Carsten Piefke
Film Editing Assistant: Malte Hadeler
Costume Designer: Stefanie Jauß
Costume Design Assistant: Carlotta Richter, Gina Jauß
Make up Artist: Melanie Krieg
2nd Make up Artist: Maitie Zilius
Gaffer: Niko Mölter
Best Boy: Hendrik Römer
Composer: Nils Kacirek
VFX/CGI: Stefan Matlik, Eike Wichmann
Voice-over: Marina Behnke
Mixing & sound-design: Sascha Prangen
Set Design: Dennis Duis, Daniel Nowak, Sven Schmidt
Archives: Agentur Karl Höffkes, Bundesfilmarchiv, Deutsches Literaturarchiv Marbach, Erich Kästner Archiv (Nachlass Luiselotte Enderle), Getty Images, Ullstein Bildarchiv, La Camera Stylo, DVD - Emil und die Detektive, 1931, MFA+, DVD - Pünktchen und Anton, 1953, MFA+, DVD - Die Konferenz der Tiere, 1969, MFA+, DVD – Das doppelte Lottchen, 1951, MFA+, DVD - Münchhausen, 1943, Transit Film GmbH
Consulting: Prof. Dr. Sven Hanuschek, Peter Beisler
Idea: Grit Merten
Assistant Editor: Juliane Pohl
Production Manager: Melanie Clausen (NDR), Stefanie Nowak (GBF), Lilly Hartmann (GBF)
Production Assistant: Samuel Maasho
Producer: Ira Beetz, Onno Ehlers
Executive Producer: Reinhardt Beetz
Commissioning Editors: Ulrike Dotzer (NDR), Monika Schäfer (NDR/ARTE), Birgit Keller-Reddemann (WDR)

Koproduktion

ndr_logo WDR_logo_schwarz_2012

Kooperation

arte_logo

Förderer

nordmedia_logo Kulturstiftung_Sachsen_logo
  • Erich Kästner – The other face

    arte
    31 December 2016 at 4:50 pm