The City Without Jews
A Dystopian Prophecy of Intolerance
This startlingly prescient silent film from inter-war Vienna, now with score from Olga Neuwirth, chillingly imagines – and astonishingly predicts – the consequences as a city succumbs to intolerance.
Made in 1924, Die Stadt ohne Juden is ominous, portentous, and completely unforgettable. H K Breslauer’s satirical dystopia shows the cultural and economic impoverishment of a city that expels its Jewish population, and is disturbingly prophetic in its depiction of the murderous anti-semitism in Vienna in the wake of the First World War.
And the story of the film is almost as remarkable as its content. Lost during the Second World War, this version was only rediscovered in a Paris flea market in 2015. The political message is more sharply articulated in this newly restored version, with a hitherto lost ending and other sequences. For anyone interested in 20th-century history, this film is essential viewing. But composer Olga Neuwirth is a cinephile herself, and her specially commissioned score will add another wholly compelling dimension.
Text: Pamela Hutchingson, journalist & film critic at The Guardian.
Read to complete article: http://sites.barbican.org.uk/thecitywithoutjews/
Hans Karl Breslauer (1988-1965) was a film director, actor, screenwriter and author.
He is best known for the film adaption of Hugo Bettauer’s successful novel "The City without Jews" (Die Stadt ohne Juden, 1924), which is a thought experiment, backed by the everyday-antisemitism at that time. The storyline is about, that the Jews of a city called "Utopia" (in the book the city is called Vienna) are forced to leave the city, but after everything went worse, were pleased to come back. Although the dramatic matter, the film as well as the book was staged as a comedy, orientated on commercial success – which it actually was. I Current personalities of the Austrian politics, which were clever integrated in the book, were abandoned in the film, to not risk problems with the censorship or the public opinion. Despite that, Nazi-groups ran riot at some showings in the cinemas.
Hugo Bettauer (1872-1925) was a prolific Austrian writer and journalist of Jewish origins, who was murdered by a Nazi-party follower on account of his opposition to antisemitism. He was well known in his lifetime; many of his books were bestsellers and in the 1920s a number were made into films, most notably Die Stadt ohne Juden (The City without Jews, directed by Hans Karl Bresslauer in 1924) which was a satire against antisemitism.
Olga Neuwirth (b. 1968) is an Austrian-Jewish composer internationally renowned for the versatility of her musical statement that pushes boundaries to explore the possibilities of renewal and chart the unknown. Her exciting and relevant output over the past 30 years has made her one of the most celebrated personalities in the contemporary art world. Her genre-crossing works, which cannot be associated with any one school, are free and uninhibited.
Olga Neuwirth came to fame at the Wiener Festwochen in 1991 with two short operas based on texts by Nobel laureate Elfriede Jelinek. Ever since she has had an resounding impact on artists of many fields, and been a role model for women composers. Her focus on intermediality, identity, gender, metamorphosis and social issues has allowed her to break with inner and outer conventions. Olga Neuwirth has also always seen the necessity for art and science to interact, and so has often incorporated the natural sciences in her work.
Read Olga Neuwirth’s interview at The Guardian:
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