In 1807 Prussia, Napoleon supporter Baron von Schranden forces his maid Regine to lead the French enemy across “Cat’s Bridge”, up behind a corps of Prussian volunteers who the French then decimate. In retaliation for this betrayal, the people of Schranden set the lord’s castle on fire. When the baron’s son Boleslav returns to the village a Prussian war hero in 1813, he is faced with a self-righteous village community that has denied his late father a decent burial. Regine is Boleslav’s only ally, and Boleslav is Regine’s only ally. The conflict escalates, and the villagers set up an ambush for him at Cat’s Bridge … The film is a gloomy “Prussian western”. Based on the book by Hermann Sudermann, it portrays a post-war society roiled by internal strife. With his historical melodrama, Gerhard Lamprecht was advocating for thoughtfulness in place of a nationalist upsurge, and for additional fealty besides loyalty to country. Although, in the end, the protagonist once again joins the Prussian army, it comes across as an act of defeatist self-sacrifice. By its very vagueness, the final sentence of both the film and the book – “he reportedly fell near Ligny” – avoids making a hero of him.
124 min · Black/White · 16 mm
Lissy ArnaJack TrevorAndreas Behrens-KlausenLouise WolderaMax MaximilianRudolf LettingerJack Mylong-MünzGustav RodeggFranz SteinEkkehard
Gerhard Lamprecht Film-Produktion GmbHBerlin, Germany
Film Print: Deutsche Kinemathek, Berlin