Schloendorff unveils Dachau priest film

16th June 2004, Comments 0 comments

16 June 2004, ULM - Oscar-winning German director Volker Schloendorff's latest film, about a priest's experiences in a Nazi concentration camp, premieres Thursday at a German Roman Catholic eucharistic congress in Ulm.

16 June 2004

ULM - Oscar-winning German director Volker Schloendorff's latest film, about a priest's experiences in a Nazi concentration camp, premieres Thursday at a German Roman Catholic eucharistic congress in Ulm.

"The Ninth Day" (Der Neunte Tag) examines the real-life story of Monsignor Jean Bernard, who spent nearly two years imprisoned in the Dachau concentration camp and later became bishop of Luxembourg.

In an interview with Deutsche Presse-Agentur, Schloendorff said he was intrigued by Bernard's integrity in standing up to a Gestapo official who tried to intimidate him into bowing to Nazi ideology on church issues.

"It is the age-old question which is just as timely now as it ever was," Schloendorff told DPA. "Am I prepared to give up a bit of my integrity in order to move things from within a rotten system? Do I sell my self-respect? It is a theme that runs through all of my films."

Some 3,000 clergymen from throughout Nazi-occupied Europe were imprisoned at Dachau.

"About 97 percent of them were Catholics, and half of those were Germans," Schloendorff said.

"By virtue of the fact that they were against the Nazis, they were also against the Vatican, which had signed a concordat with Nazi Germany," he noted.

He called Bernard an extraordinary man.

"Once in 1942 he was released from Dachau for a few days furlough," he said. "Anyone else would have gone into hiding. But Father Jean obediently returned at the end of the furlough rather than have other inmates suffer reprisals."

Schloendorff said his own Catholic upbringing was responsible for his becoming a filmmaker.

"I wouldn't have become a director were it not for the encouragement I got from Jesuit teachers when I was in school," he said.

Schloendorff, whose "The Tin Drum" (Die Blechtrommel) won the Academy Award for best foreign-language film in 1980, said his next film will be about the Ninth Century Pope John VIII who according to legend turned out to be a woman - the legendary Pope Joan.

"How different do you suppose the Catholic Church might be if a woman was pope instead of a man?"

"The Ninth Day" will have its official premiere at the Munich Film Festival which runs from 26 June to 3 July. The movie opens in cinemas across Germany in September.

DPA

Subject: German news

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