The very first ‘girl crush’ on the big screen — Mädchen in Uniform (1931)

Anyone who studies films knows that the ‘best films forever’ rarely made in Hollywood. It is the same principle that you see thousands of people shopping in the Primark every day, but never see any hidden boutiques is full of people.

Though Hollywood movies still dominate the film market, an increasing number of independent movies or non-mainstream movies draw people’s attention nowadays. Aside from that, the term ‘cult film’ seems rarely been mentioned as the definition seems still undefined; whereas, focusing on subculture could be one of the identities.

madchen-in-uniform-postcard-1
Mädchen in Uniform (1931)

One masterpiece which been seen as the cult film introduced by professor Richard Dyer FBA who is specialise in Film Studies for his presentation of ‘A History of Lesbian and Gay Cinema in 10 Films’ at the British Academy caught my attention — Mädchen in Uniform (1931), known as ‘Girls in Uniform’ in English.

The movie talks about in a senior girls’ school, the newly transfer student, Manuela who is fall in loved with her teacher, Fräulein von Bernburg. And… That it. One storyline without any distractions. Of course, it was not acceptable by the headmistress; of course, it caused attentions among other girls; of course, there is forced break-up scene. However, it leaves with an open ending.

madchen-in-uniform-postcard
Mädchen in Uniform (1931)

Though the story sounds quite simple and boring since gay and lesbian already been accepted by many countries. Whereas, this film was made back to 1931 in Germany, an interesting time in a nation with drastic changes. Moreover, this movie being regarded as the very first lesbian film in the history.

madchen-in-uniform
Mädchen in Uniform (1931)

I bet a lot of girls has the similar crush on their teachers or even female classmates while they were in senior schools just like the other girls in the film, Fräulein von Bernburg is beloved by all girls because she is nice to everyone and rarely publish anybody. However, the love Manuela formed with Fräulein von Bernburg is different; in my view, Manuela treated Fräulein von Bernburg more like a mother at the beginning as she lost her mum just before came to this school.

Though Manuela expresses her love to Fräulein von Bernburg later in the movie, I still do not think that is the romantic love. Nonetheless, one famous line from the movie which when Fräulein talked to the headmistress is ‘What you call sin, Headmistress, I call the great spirit of love which takes a thousand forms’. That sounds romantic though…

dorothea-wieck
Dorothea Wieck

What is more, I have to admit that another important reason for me to see this movie is those two charming leading actresses. Turns out, not only me, but a lot of viewers left the comments that said those two actresses are so beautiful and stunning that you cannot say no to this film. One is called Dorothea Wieck, who played the teacher Fräulein von Bernburgand (above); the other one called Hertha Thiele, who played the student Manuela (below).

hertha-thiele
Hertha Thiele

The most fascinating part is according to the Wikipedia, these two ladies were living in the different sides of Germany after the Second World War. Though they share the same age, their lives were going to different directions. Dorothea Wieck continued her acting career and made a great contribution to both German films and theatres; while Hertha Thiele worked as a psychiatric nursing assistant in Switzerland during most of the 1950s and 1960s after she failed to back to the big screen in East Germany after the war, though she managed to back on the TV screen later.

madchen-in-uniform-kiss-scene
Mädchen in Uniform (1931) kiss scene

I am always wondering if these two ever met each other, though I think it was impossible as they all passed away in the 1980s which during the ‘cold war’ whilst Germany was still in two parts. Sometimes, when individuals’ life meet the historic events, it is worth pondering.

Nevertheless, they made history for LGBT films, as well as for the development of the cult film. If you study film or interested in LGBT films, this one is worth to see.

Be aware: this film on the Youtube could be removed by the uploader…

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