“I can’t stand by and watch children made into scared, helpless creatures.”
A young orphan (Hertha Thiele) at an authoritarian boarding school in Prussia develops a crush on her kind teacher (Dorothea Wieck).
Response to Peary’s Review:
This female-directed “landmark of the German cinema” was, as Peary notes, “the first German film to incorporate sound skillfully and thematically”, the first film to “treat lesbianism sympathetically,” and a rare movie which dared to “attack authoritarianism at the time the climate was right for Hitler’s rise to power.” Indeed, as Peary and many other reviewers have noted, Madchen is strongly allegorical, with the girls’ boarding school clearly meant to represent Germany’s increasingly oppressive fascist regime. It’s refreshing to see these girls — who are “spirited, funny, caring, and supportive” — sustain themselves through the love and support they have for one another.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- A remarkably sensitive early cinematic depiction of lesbian attraction
- Atmospheric cinematography
Yes, as a landmark German film.