Kolberg. Dir. Veit Harlan. Perf. Horst Caspar, Gustav Diessl, Heinrich George, Kurt Meisel, Kristina Soderbaum . DVD. UFA, 1945.
Kolberg is a historical epic of the Nazi film era. It is about the patriotism of the people of Kolberg during the Napoleonic wars and the importance of the average citizen. The film highlights the patriotism of Nettleback. He steps on the toes of his superiors to make sure that victory was had in Kolberg at all costs because that is what the people of Kolberg desire, for they are a proud and loyal people. The officer in charge of Kolberg’s defense is doing a poor job and conflicts with Nettelback, imprisoning Nettelback, who was merely trying to correct the deficits in Kolberg?s defenses. Nettelback sends his trusted Maria to the king to ask for a different officer for Kolberg. Maria meets with the queen and is struck speechless by the Queen’s beauty and majesty. She is successful in getting Nettelback’s request granted. The way Nettelback and the newly appointed officer work together shows how the citizens and the government can truly combine efforts for the greater good. Romance also finds its way in the film with Maria and Lieutenant Schill. The reoccurring theme throughout the film is that a citizen must be willing to sacrifice all for his country. Honor and loyalty to one’s country trump all else. This theme is illustrated in Maria and Lieutenant Schill's conversation about their willingness to sacrifice all for Kolberg and how only then would it be enough.
Joseph Goebbels, minister of propaganda, felt that Kolberg would inspire the citizens to support World War II by drawing on astounding examples of patriotism by average citizens and its great significance to Germany. Because of the importance Goebbels placed in the impact of the film, he was willing to divert many of Germany’s much needed war resources to the making of this movie, which was the one of costliest of this era. Two hundred thousand troops were used in the making of the film, troops that were taken away from battle. The cost of the film was very extravagant, and Germany really did not have the surplus of resources to accommodate such a project. Film production began in 1943 and was not completed until 1945, so the film’s impact as a source of propaganda was very minimal, considering Germany was on the brink of defeat and most of the theaters were closed from the mass destruction from the Allies’ bombings. “The film remained virtually unseen as the city fell to Soviet troops” (Thompson and Bordwell 274). Overall, Kolberg was a great folly of Goebbels and a waste of money and resources that Germany could not afford. (Thompson and Bordwell 274)
Thompson, Kristin, and David Bordwell. Film History An Introduction. 2nd. New York: McGraw Hill, 2003.