Karl May

The second film in Syberberg's trilogy forming, with Ludwig - Requiem for a Virgin King and Hitler, a Film from Germany, a unique analysis of the dominant forces in German history and culture. Like a German Rider Haggard, May was an 'imperialist' novelist with a strong romantic idealism (best remembered for his American 'noble savage' character, Winnetou), and part of Syberberg's aim is to celebrate the fragile beauty of his fantasies. But the film is structured as a kind of biography, and the long central scene of a courtroom battle marks the collapse of May's dreams as he gets more and more deeply embroiled in the realities of Prussian jurisprudence. The matter-of-fact historical framework acquires an added resonance from the fact that all the main parts are played by prominent figures from the Nazi cinema of the '30s. The mesh of fact, fiction, realism and expressionism is complex and fascinating. And the film's 'plastic' qualities are at least as sumptuous as those in Ludwig.

Release details

Duration: 180 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Hans-Jürgen Syberberg
Screenwriter: Hans-Jürgen Syberberg
Cast: Helmut Käutner
Kristina Söderbaum
Käthe Gold
Attila Hörbiger
Willy Trenk-Trebitsch
Heinz Moog
Lil Dagover