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A Tribute to Das Kleine Fernsehspiel/ZDF: Alternative Filmmaking in Television

A Tribute to Das Kleine Fernsehspiel/ZDF: Alternative Filmmaking in Television

Wednesday, January 9, 1980
7:30 p.m. Calm Prevails Over the Country (Es Herrscht Ruhe im Land) and David
Peter Lilienthal (West Germany,1975)
(West Germany, 1979)

Peter Lilienthal in Person!

In Wheeler Auditorium

Admission: $2.50

Calm Prevails Over the Country

Filmed in Portugal, Calm Prevails Over the Country is a powerful political parable describing a police crackdown in a resistance-riddled Latin American country. With ruthless irony, the film carries the notion of the police state as a prison to its logical conclusion: by the end of the film, the government, in its zeal to restore “calm” to the country, has placed virtually the entire able-bodied population under arrest. The stage is set for a final act of heroism that is as moving as it is unassuming. Director Peter Lilienthal and his noted cameraman Robby Mueller (The American Friend) create a raw, rough-edged look which makes Calm Prevails one of the cinema’s most harrowing authentic portrayals of the nature of fascism. “An intensely interesting film, very measured and clear at the beginning, full of the precisely observed details of daily life that in the movies are the equivalent to life’s small talk, and then, quite suddenly, a poetic parable of implications that extend beyond the political.” —Vincent Canby, New York Times

• Directed by Peter Lilienthal. ZDF Production Executive, Christoph Holch. Screenplay by Lilienthal and Antonio Skarmeta. Photographed by Robby Mueller. With Charles Vanel, Mario Pardo, Eduardo Duran. (1975, 100 mins, 35mm, color, English titles, Print from New Yorker Films)


Awarded “Best Film” at the 1979 Berlin International Film Festival, David is the story of a Jewish boy and his family struggling to survive in and escape Nazi Germany. The leitmotiv of David’s life is a text he translated as a child during Hebrew lessons with his father, Rabbi Singer: “Look not behind thee, neither stay thou in all the plain; escape to the mountain, lest thou be swept away” (Genesis 19:17).
“When he is no longer allowed to attend school, David studies sewing machine repair; to prepare for a new life in Palestine he learns to plant trees. So that the neighbors will not hear him, he chalks paths onto the squeaky wooden flooring of his apartment; when he hears footsteps outside, he hides in the closet.
“For food, he works in a Chinese restaurant; for a place to spend the day, he finds work in a factory.
“In the streets, camouflaged in his uniform, he searches in the looks of passersby for danger, so he may detect and avoid it.
“David wants to escape from Germany; he wants to find his parents, his sister and brother, and his friends again.” --Peter Lilienthal
• Directed by Peter Lilienthal. Produced with the assistance of ZDF. Written by Lilienthal, Jureck Becker, Ulla Ziemann, adapted from Joel Koenig’s book, “David--Aufzeichnungen eines Ueberlebenden.” Photographed by Al Ruban. Music by Wojciech Kilar. With Walter Taub, Irena Vrkljan, Eva Mattes, Mario Fischel, Torsten Henties, Dominique Horwitz. (1979, 125 mins, 35mm, color, English titles, Print from Filmverlag der Autoren, Munich)