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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Der Herrscher (English: The Master, The Sovereign, or The Ruler) is a 1937 German drama film directed by Veit Harlan.[1] It was adapted from the play of the same name by Gerhart Hauptmann. Erwin Leiser calls it a propagandistic demonstration of the Führerprinzip of Nazi Germany.[2]


Matthias Clausen (Emil Jannings) is the head of Clausen Works, an old and prosperous munitions firm. He falls in love with a secretary in the office (Marianne Hoppe), and his children conspire against him in order to protect their inheritance. Clausen disowns them and bestows the firm on the state, confident that one of his workers capable of carrying on his work will arise.


The movie was based on the play Before Sunset by Nobel Prize recipient Gerhart Hauptmann, but the themes have been utterly altered.[2] A mild-mannered art collector in the play, he becomes the dynamic "first worker" of the movies, who proclaims the firm's duty to provide work and serve the community, and unlike the play, triumphs over his children's machinations.[2]


Some newspapers objected to the anti-capitalist bent inherent in having a man leave his company to the state; the official release contained a postscript by Goebbels repudiating such intentions.[3] Writing for Night and Day in 1937, Graham Greene gave the film a mildly negative review, criticizing the acting and describing Jannings' portrayal as "the meaningless gaze of a sea-lion". Greene noted that he had enjoyed the "pleasantly savage opening", but that as the film continued it was increasingly necessary for the audience to assign emotions to Jannings' "marine" acting.[4]


  1. ^ Hal Erickson (2016). "New York Times: Der Herrscher (1937)". Movies & TV Dept. The New York Times. Archived from the original on 2016-03-10. Retrieved 2010-10-30.
  2. ^ a b c Leiser, Erwin (1975). Nazi Cinema. Macmillan. p. 49. ISBN 978-0-02-570230-1.
  3. ^ Grunberger, Richard (1971). The 12-Year Reich: A Social History of Nazi Germany 1933–1945. Holt, Rinehart and Winston. p. 385. ISBN 978-0-03-076435-6.
  4. ^ Greene, Graham (1 July 1937). "We from Kronstadt/The Frog/Make Way for Tomorrow/Der Herrscher". Night and Day. (reprinted in: Taylor, John Russell, ed. (1980). The Pleasure Dome. Oxford University Press. p. 151. ISBN 0192812866.)

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This page was last edited on 8 June 2021, at 08:40
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