Cleveland International Film Festival } March 22 – April 1, 2023 } Playhouse Square

(Comedian Harmonists)

Year: 1998
Country: Germany
Run Time: 126 minutes

"If we hadn't been forced to split up, we'd be more famous than the Beatles today," said the old man to the director, and he was probably right. The old man was Roman Cycowski, at 97 the lone surviving member of the Comedian Harmonists, a wildly popular and innovative six-man a cappella vocal ensemble of the 1920s and 1930s in Germany. And the director was Joseph Vilsmaier, a German filmmaker noted for his touch with such immense subjects as the Battle of Stalingrad. The two collaborated because the end of the Comedian Harmonists did not occur through internal bickering or even Yoko Ono, but rather the monolithic rise of the Third Reich. Nazi policy vehemently opposed the 50-50 split of Jewish and gentile singers who comproised the group, not to mention their "degenerate" jazz- and swing-influenced melodies. But, riding a wave of stardom, the Harmonists could not foresee the ominous final notes ahead of them, as freedom in Europe fell silent and their perfect pitch of human voices gave way to the drumbeat of fascist jackboots. You've heard of the Day the Music Died? With the Harmonists' last public performance, the music was murdered. Now, more than 60 years later, Joseph Vilsmaier has dramatized the legendary Harmonists' spectacular rise and dissolution. (In German with English subtitles)

Klaus Richter

Joseph Vilsmaier

Joseph Vilsmaier

Joseph Vilsmaier

Peter R. Adam

Principal Cast
Ben Becker, Heino Ferch, Ulrich Noethen, Henrich Schafmeister, Max Tidof, Kai Wiesinger, Meret Becker

Film Contact
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