Pabst’s Vivid Re-creation of a Real-Life Disaster

A stirring parable of the bonds between nations in the wake of World War I, G. W. Pabst’s Kameradschaft (1931) takes place amid the lingering tensions on the borderland between Germany and France, where a mining disaster galvanizes representatives of both countries into working together against the clock. It’s a high-stakes story staged by Pabst with consummate skill, not least in his evocation of the claustrophobic space of the fiery collapsing mine. But it was not on his own that the director achieved his rigorously realistic vision. In the clip above, taken from an in-depth production history on our new release of Kameradschaft, scholar Hermann Barth highlights the contributions of veteran set designer Ernő Metzner, whose careful planning was instrumental in realizing the subterranean chaos on-screen.

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