Frühlings Erwachen

Spring Awakening
Moritz Stiefel faces expulsion due to poor marks. When he is caught with an essay titled “Shame and Lust”, he is indeed kicked out – instead of classmate Melchior Gabor, who actually penned it. Gabor was drawing on his experiences with neighbourhood girl Wendla. Then Wendla turns up pregnant. Stiefel descends into despair ... Exploitation between Eros and Thanatos in this “sexual tragedy of youth” based on Frank Wedekind’s play. That piece provided inspiration for many films of the Weimar era that anticipated later teenage movies, including Geschminkte Jugend (Painted Youth, Carl Boese), Zwischen vierzehn und siebzehn (Between Fourteen and Seventeen, E. W. Emo) or Die Halbwüchsigen (The Adolescents, Edmund Heuberger, all 1929). Setting the film in the 1920s provided a chance to explore “modern” youth culture, complete with cigarettes, jazz music, the gramophone, and a goodly bit of alcohol. Richard Oswald, a master of films of manners and young sex beginning in the 1910s, fully explores the temptations of the youthful body, even early childhood flirtatiousness. At the same time, with his target audience in mind, the film laments the bigotry and double standards of the adult world.
by Richard Oswald
with Mathilde Sussin, Toni van Eyck, Paul Henckels, Carl Balhaus, Rolf von Goth, Ita Rina, Willy Clever, Valy Arnheim, Fritz Rasp, Bernhard Goetzke
Germany 1929 Dutch intertitles 95’ Black/White


  • Mathilde Sussin
  • Toni van Eyck
  • Paul Henckels
  • Carl Balhaus
  • Rolf von Goth
  • Ita Rina
  • Willy Clever
  • Valy Arnheim
  • Fritz Rasp
  • Bernhard Goetzke


Director Richard Oswald
Screenplay Friedrich Raff, Herbert Rosenfeld based on the play “Frühlings Erwachen“ (1891) by Frank Wedekind
Cinematography Eduard Hoesch
Set Construction Max Knaake
Producers Liddy Hegewald, Richard Oswald

Produced by

Hegewald-Film GmbH / Richard Oswald-Produktion GmbH

Additional information

Film Print: Eye Film Instiitute Netherlands, Amsterdam

Richard Oswald

Born in Vienna, Austria in 1880, he died in Germany in 1963. He began his career as a stage actor in Vienna before becoming a film director in 1914 and founding his own production company in 1916. He fled from the Nazis to Paris and later the USA where he directed three films. He returned to Germany after the war.

Filmography (selection)

1917 Es werde Licht! · Das Bildnis des Dorian Gray 1919 Unheimliche Geschichten 1929 Frühlings Erwachen · Der Hund von Baskerville 1930 Wien, du Stadt der Lieder 1931 Der Hauptmann von Köpenick 1933 Das Testament des Dr. Mabuse

Bio- & filmography as of Berlinale 2018