Biography of Georg Wilhelm Pabst (1885-1967)

Director of German cinema, born in Raudnitz (Czechoslovakia) on August 27, 1885 and died in Vienna (Austria) on May 29, 1967.


Son of a railway, Georg Wilhelm Pabst refused to exercise his engineering studies, and wished his father, and soon turned to the unstable field of interpreting. It got as Apprentice in a modest theatre company and at eighteen participated in assemblies by Austria and Germany. In 1910 he emigrated to the United States and entered in the company's Popular German of New York Theatre, where alternated his work as an actor with the stage direction Assistant. The high number of the resident German colony in New York made this company allows them to his works in the German language, and there Pabst began to carve out a considerable reputation as a stage director. In 1914 he was sent to Germany to hire new players willing to join the company, and passing through Paris surprised the outbreak of the first world war. Held in a concentration camp for four years, it went through difficult personal situations that left a deep mark on his later life and cinematographic work.

Once released he settled in Vienna, where he directed the Neuer Wiener Theater, specializing in the genre "Kammerspiel". The lack of economic means is supplemented with imagination, and relaunched the interrupted career of Pabst. Their intimate productions and deepening in the psychology of the characters make it palatable fruit for the film companies, at a time that is evolving toward more dense and elaborate movies. It is for this reason that in 1921 Pabst founded in Berlin, with his friend Carl Froelich, a production company that began its activities with In banne der kralle, where the future filmmaker intervenes as an actor.

After a few jobs as an Assistant of Froelich access the address in 1923 with Der schatz, history of the search for a treasure trove that blends with other films of the era and which allows you to learn the rudiments of the medium without great risks. This title precedes, however, some traits that subsequently developed throughout his career: the hatred between people as a result of the lack of money, naturalism in the description of the feelings or the unstoppable force of love and eroticism. Der schatz will be La condesa Donelli, typical feature of custom to which called for little more than trade and some narrative elegance.

It is from her marriage to the young and educated Gertrude Hennings when made the final leap that placed him in a short time as one of the key artists of world cinema. Just after the legendary honeymoon wheel under the mask of pleasure, where it shows the devastating physical and moral consequences of any war, which unfortunately was very close to the own Pabst. It gets a huge public success that allows you to develop a project inspired by the psychoanalytic theories of Sigmund Freud, Geheimnisse einer seele. This doctrine was in its heyday, and indeed several direct disciples of Freud participated as advisors in the filming of a movie posed a bold for the time argument, as it would be many subsequent materials that worked Pabst: the influence of jealousy in male sexual impotence.

With paths of sin, in 1928, he started an erotic trilogy of world fame that would anchor him as one of the filmmakers of universe more tormented and skeptical. Its negative view of society and its social democratic ideology are mixed to create a few feature films where the rich out put and poverty is seen as something that leads inexorably to prostitution fleshly or moral. The sexual liberation of women is one of the few positive elements appearing on the horizon, even being a double-edged weapon if used badly, since, as in Pandora's box, they could spread is greatest disgraces the universe.

Although occasionally Pabst returned to the genre, case of prisoners of the mountain film, starring that later it would be nazi filmmaker Leni Riefensthal, his work was becoming more ambitious in their desire to hit aggressively the consciences of a rotten society both economically. If four infantry marks one of his biggest critical and box-office successes, is not behind the comedy of life, based on a play by Bertolt Brecht, with whom he had strong disagreements during the phase of preparation which finally led to this refuse to participate in the project. The relentless satire of institutions like the Church, justice or the police and corrosive humor against capitalism and the moral hypocrite sparked a debate of considerable scope in Europe. Coal, on the other hand, barely had Fortune at the box office while Pabst signed with her one of his most perfect works. But the public was beginning to tire of the films of political turmoil and new, even the humblest workers, by comedietas or sensibleros dramas.

This failure pushes you to undertake the adventure outside of Germany, first in France (where wheel Atlantis and one of the best versions ever made Don Quixote) and later in the United States, where hired by Warner Bros consumes his time without hardly work opportunities. Disappointed, he returned to Europe and Pilgrim from France to Italy or Austria looking for producers interested in films of a filmmaker who, in the 1920s and 1930s, had achieved considerable critical success and public finance.

The rise of Nazism caused his return to Germany, where tries to initially work offering its social democratic political vision and later realizes that should moderate his approach to avoid problems. Rueda under these conditions a series of historical films (comedians, Paracelsus) that part bothered the Hitler regime but that on the other hand are manipulated as a symbol of alleged liberties enjoyed makers in Germany. Tired of struggling, he moved back to other countries such as Austria or Italy, where each time with greater difficulties manages to survive making a pointless film which acknowledged difficulties the creative greatness of a myth as Pabst.


Actor.1921: In banne der kralle.

Guionista.1922: Der taugenichts (and Assistant Director); Luise Millerin (and Assistant Director and actor). 1949: Duell mit dem tod (and supervisor).

Argument: 1930: beauty award.

Supervisor: 1929: Moral a mitternacht. 1933: A crime at night. 1949: 1-2-3 - Aus! (and co-writer). 1950: Ruf aus dem aether (and producer).

Director.1923: Der schatz. 1924: The Countess Donelli. 1925: Under the mask of pleasure. 1926: Geheimnisse einer seele; The mirror of bliss. 1927: The love of Jeanne Ney. 1928: Paths of sin; Pandora's box. 1929: Three pages of a diary; Prisoners of the mountain. 1930: Four infantry; Skandal um Eva; Die dreigroschenoper. 1931: The comedy of life; Carbon.1932: Die herrin von Atlantis; Atlantis; Lost Atlantis. 1933: don Quixote; Don Quixote; Du haut on bas. 1934: A modern hero. 1937: Mademoiselle Docteur. 1938: The drama of Shanghai. 1939: The sacred law. 1941: Comediantes.1943: Paracelsus.1944: Der fall Molander. 1947: Der prozess. 1949: Geheimnisvolle tiefen. 1952: Conscience accuses. 1953: Cose da pazzi. 1954: Das Bekenntnis der ina kahr. 1955: Der letzte akt; Geschah am is 20 Juli. 1956: Roses for Bettina; The forest of my dreams.


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EDGE, Raymond, BUACHE, Freddy, COURTADE, Francis. Le Cinéma allemand réaliste. Serdoc. Lyon, 1965.

Carlos FERNÁNDEZ CUENCA. G w Pabst. National Library of Spain. Madrid, 1967.

GEBAUER, Dorothea. Georg Wilhelm Pabst. 12th International week of cinema religious and human values. Valladolid, 1967.

JACOBSEN, Wolfgang. G w Pabst. Argon Verlag. Berlin, 1997.

KRACAUER, Siegfried. From Caligari to Hitler. A psychological history of the German cinema. Paidós. Barcelona, 1985.

SÁNCHEZ BIOSCA, Vicente. Shadows of Weimar (contributions to the history of German cinema, 1918-1933). Verdoux. Madrid, 1990.

L Fernández Colorado