["The City Without Jews"] Austrian film (1924). H K Breslauer-Film. Directed by H K Breslauer. Written by Hugo Bettauer from the novel Die Stadt ohne Juden (1922), and by Breslauer. Cast includes Hans Moser, Anny Miletty, Eugen Neufeld, Johannes Riemann, Karl Terna. 80 minutes. Black and white.
Hugo Bettauer's original novel, a comic Satire set in Near Future Vienna, suffers considerable mutilation in the film version, where the satire is softened, Vienna is renamed Utopia (see Dystopia), and a happy ending is imposed. Various caricatures, whose real-life counterparts were easily identifiable in the original novel, have been removed throughout, though scenes of desperate Jewish men and women and children in special trains strikes a darker note. A civilization of Jews is banished from Utopia by a government whose officials harmlessly resemble figures from a comic operetta. In order for the Jews to be allowed back into Utopia, because their exile has leached all joy from the city and impoverished it, melodramatic shenanigans are entered into to ensure the removal of a recalcitrant politician Rat Bernart (Moser), who ends up in the local insane asylum, where he has bad dreams realized through a cinematography suddenly become Expressionist. On awakening, Bernart finds that the entire film has been a dream. Learning from this oneiric false news, he decides that Jews are "necessary evil", and that everyone should live in peace.
This ending, which betrays Bettauer's original, can be understood in terms of the denial culture endemic between the wars in countries like Austria (see Amnesia). But even defanged, Die Stadt ohne Juden was too much for the political climate of 1924. Filmings occasioned riots. Bettauer was murdered the next year by a Nazi who became a folk hero. Breslauer never made another movie. [JC]
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