Die 14-jährige Vollwaise Manuela von Meinhardis kommt an ein Stift für höhere Töchter in Potsdam. Hier erlebt sie eine Erziehung, die von preußischem Drill und dem Fehlen menschlicher Nähe geprägt ist. Einziger Lichtblick ist für sie die Lehrerin Fräulein von Bernburg, die sich dem rigiden Erziehungsideal der Oberin widersetzt. Als Manuela nach einer Schultheateraufführung – beschwingt vom Erfolg und von Bowle – Fräulein von Bernburg ihre Liebe gesteht, kommt es zum Eklat. Während die Oberin Fräulein von Bernburg für das Geschehene verantwortlich machen will, versucht Manuela, sich das Leben zu nehmen – was ihre Mitschülerinnen im letzten Moment verhindern können.
Mädchen in Uniform could be classified as a very bold film for its time. It presents the controversies of lesbianism, teacher-student relationships, and anti-fascism in Germany in the 1930's. Feminine sexual powers are used throughout the film. During rehearsals for a play, one of the girls is told to use her feminine powers (to be more seductive) to play her part. Sex appeal is also mentioned in describing a movie star. The anti-fascism isn't blatant in the film, but in the opening scene, we see soldiers marching and then the schoolgirls marching, hinting at the hidden meaning. While considered a Lesbian cult film, the movie is actually a commentary on the rather inhuman Prussian educational system and the cast's reaction to it.
The film had some impact in the Berlin lesbian clubs around Budapester Straße and Rankenstraße, but was largely eclipsed by the ongoing cult success of Der blaue Engel (1930). The film did however generate large amounts of fan-mail to the stars from all over Germany and was considered a success throughout much of Europe. The goodnight kiss Thiele received from Wieck was especially popular: one distributor even asked for more footage of other kisses like it to splice into prints of the film. From its premiere at the Capitol cinema in Berlin until 1934, the film is said to have grossed some RM 6,000,000. Despite the collective nature of the filming, for which cast and crew received only a quarter of the normal wage, none saw a share of the 6,000,000 Marks and Thiele later hinted that the profits had been mostly retained by the producers. The film was distributed by Weissenbach outside Germany and was a huge success in Romania. Later, an alternate ending, which subtly pandered to pro-Nazi ideals, enabled continued screening in German cinemas but eventually even this version of the film was banned as 'decadent' by the Nazi regime, which reportedly attempted to burn all of the existing prints; but by then several had been dispersed around the world. Sagan and many others associated with the film fled Germany soon after the ban. Many of the cast and crew were Jewish and those who could not escape from Germany died in the camps. "You were only first aware that they were Jewish when fascism was there and you lost your friends," said Thiele, who left Germany in 1937. Assistant director Walter Supper killed himself, when it became clear his Jewish wife would be arrested.
Tempest Productions made a podcast series about this cult film. You can access it here: https://soundcloud.com/user-986948053/sets/the-kiss-the-women-who-made-a
DVD-R IS IN GERMAN WITH SWITCHABLE ENGLISH SUBTITLES. APPROXIMATELY 83 MINUTES. DIGITAL QUALITY
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