Mädchen in Uniform (1931)
Directors: Leontine Sagan, Carl Froelich
Writers: Christa Winsloe, Friedrich Dammann
Stars: Dorothea Wieck, Hertha Thiele and Emilia Unda
Video: XVID (.avi) | 640x480 | FPS: 25 | Sound: mpga | Color: Black and White | Size: 1.17 GB | Runtime: 1:23:22 | Country: Germany | Language: German | Subtitles: Czech | English | German | Portuguese | Russian | Spanish | Filming Locations: Potsdam, Brandenburg, Germany | Genres: Drama | Romance
Winsloe's novel had previously appeared as a stage play under the title Ritter Nérestan (Knight Nérestan) in Leipzig with Hertha Thiele and Claire Harden in the lead roles. After Leipzig the play was produced on the stage in Berlin as Gestern und heute (Yesterday and Today) with a different cast and a more prominent lesbian theme, which was again toned down somewhat for the film.
Having mostly played the same roles on stage, the cast was able to produce the film at speed and on a low budget of RM55,000. It was largely shot at the Potsdam military orphanage, now a teacher training college for women. Carl Froelich's studio in Berlin-Tempelhof was also used. The film's original working title was Gestern und heute but this was thought too insipid and changed to increase the chances of box-office success. Although sound had only been used for two years in cinema, it was used artfully.
The film was groundbreaking in a number of ways: firstly for its all-female cast; secondly for its sympathetic portrayal of lesbian pedagogical eros and homoeroticism revolving around the passionate love of a fourteen-year-old (Thiele) for her teacher (Dorothea Wieck); and thirdly for its co-operative and profit-sharing financial arrangements (although in practice these ultimately failed). During an interview about the film decades later, Thiele said: The whole of Mädchen in Uniform was set in the Empress Augusta boarding school, where Winsloe was educated. Actually there really was a Manuela, who remained lame all of her life after she threw herself down the stairs. She came to the premiere of the film. I saw her from a distance, and at the time Winsloe told me, "The experience is one which I had to write from my heart." Winsloe was a lesbian. Thiele also said, "However, I really don't want to make a great deal of […] or account for a film about lesbianism here. That's far from my mind, because the whole thing of course is also a revolt against the cruel Prussian education system."
After many screen tests, Winsloe had insisted that her friend Thiele play the lead role. Director Sagan would have preferred Gina Falckenberg who had done the role on stage in Berlin, but along with having played Manuela in Leipzig, Thiele had already played a young lesbian in Ferdinand Bruckner's stage play Die Kreatur (The Creature) and although twenty-three years old when filming began, she was considered to be more capable of portraying a fourteen-year-old.