“Damals gingen die Schnulzen eben gut:” Luis Trenker and the Heimatfilm

Kamaal Haque


Of those actors and directors who have come to be associated with the genre of the Heimatfilm, one name remains both curiously present and absent: Luis Trenker. On the one hand, Trenker continues to be present in the public consciousness as a representative of the Heimatfilm. On the other hand, Trenker focused much of his productivity during the main decade of the genre, the 1950s, on writing books rather than making films. The three films that he made that can be considered examples of the Heimatfilm, Flucht in die Dolomiten (1955), Von der Liebe besiegt (1956) and Wetterleuchten um Maria (1957), are only occasionally mentioned in histories and critical works on the Heimatfilm and never in great detail nor, justifiably, as exemplars of the genre. Nevertheless, in this article I will discuss these films in detail and argue that they are all unified by the false assumption of guilt. The young men who are falsely accused are exonerated when the truth about the true perpetrators, older and with more social capital than these young men, is revealed. I read this discourse of guilt in Trenker’s Heimatfilme as representing a particular strain in German thought regarding the legacy of the Nazi past: in these films, only the rich and powerful are truly guilty; the young and less powerful are innocent. (KH)

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