Madchen in Uniform

Weimar Film Series: Mädchen in Uniform

Wednesday, November 18, 2015 - 6:30pm
Collins Cafe, Collins Cinema

Film Series: Gender + Social Change in Weimar Cinema

From the uncanny tale of terror that is Wiene’s The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari to the nuanced story of one young woman’s illicit love in Mädchen in Uniform, these films of Weimar Cinema demonstrate the anxieties, uncertainties, and aspirations bound up with changing gender norms amidst the young Weimar republic. The experience of war and defeat, coupled with the radically altered socio-cultural norms introduced by democracy and the new constitution, played out in that most modern of media, the cinema, which simultaneously celebrated and punished the transgressive bodies that populated it.

The Wellesley College CAMS Department is honored to present Leontine Sagan’s Mädchen in Uniform (Girls in Uniform, 1931) this fall. As the final screening in this four-part Weimar Cinema series, this widely discussed adaptation of Christa Winsloe's play Gestern und Heute (Yesterday and Today, 1938) marks one of the most moving and memorable German talkies.  

This love story has been recognized as the first pro-lesbian film and won several prizes in Germany, despite controversy. After the death of her mother, teenage Manuela (Hertha Thiele) is sent off to a boarding school run by the autocratic Fräulein von Nordeck (Emilia Unda). Initially withdrawn from the other girls due to her grief and anger at being sent away, Manuela is drawn out of her shell by the beautiful and sympathetic young teacher Elizabeth von Bernburg (Dorothea Wieck). But when Manuela's fondness for her teacher turns into a romantic attachment, it becomes a school-wide scandal.

This screening has been generously supported by the Davis Museum Film Program Gift.