Today, this film is considered a classic of proletarian documentary film in pre-1933 Germany and a rarity within its genre. In the credits, the film is laconically referred to as “a film report”, with the supplementary remark: “There is reality and nothing else.” This strict self-restraint calls for a narrative style that the film, which lasts about three-quarters of an hour, consistently adheres to: a documentary with feature-film excerpts from the Silesian coal fields, dating from 1929. Leo Lania carried out research in the region and published the results in newspapers. Afterwards, he and Prometheus director Phil Jutzi made the film. The images of distress and poverty, reflecting the conditions in which the family had to live, are depressing. The feature-film scenes strewn in here and there support the purely documentary images. The accusatory pamphlet met the IAH's (Internationale Arbeiter-Hilfe, a workers’ relief organisation) demand for solidarity. Speaking of his film, Phil Jutzi described the film work as a “mission” that served the “cultural development of humanity”. Fierce censorship debates and the film's unusual length restricted its screening in the cinemas. After 1933 it was banned in any case.
Print courtesy of Deutsche Kinemathek, Berlin
by Phil Jutzi
with Sybille Schloß, Holmes Zimmermann
Germany (through 1945) 1929