Wilhelm Tell
(William Tell)

Directed by Heinz Paul (1934)


     Hans Marr (Wilhelm Tell)

     Conrad Veidt (Gessler)

     Emmy Sonnemann (wife of Wilhelm Tell)

     Carl de Vogt (persecuted homeowner)

     Maly Delschaft (wife of persecuted homeowner)

Switzerland in the 14th century is part of the Holy Roman Empire and is being taken over by a governor (Gessler) appointed by the Emperor. The evil Gessler insists on total obedience and various scenes of persecution are enacted including Carl de Vogt's wife getting attacked and his house getting burned down and another peasant having his eyes put out. Gessler puts his hat on a pole in the center of the village and demands that everyone bow to it. Tell refuses and Gessler makes him shoot an apple placed on the head of Tell's son. Afterwards he imprisons Tell, but Tell escapes during a storm on the lake. The peasants revolt and Tell kills Gessler.

Though this film is made in 1934, it is made in the tradition of a silent movie with very little dialogue and very slow pacing. The magnificent mountain scenery dwarfs the human combatants and contributes to the sense of the eternal struggle between good and evil.

There is controversy about this film. Hans Marr was a dedicated Nazi, publicly stating that on Palm Sunday people should place their palms at the feet of Adolph Hitler because he was "the arm of God and His envoy". Emmy Sonnemann became Mrs. Herman Göring soon after the completion of the filming. Also, the film was made under the personal "protectorate" of Hans Johst, who was in charge of propaganda through films for the Nazi Party, and who was credited with writing part of the filmscript.

Carl was directed by Heinz Paul in U 9 Weddigen in 1927, Drei Tage auf Leben und Tod in 1929 and Trenck in 1932. Maly Delschaft also appeared with Carl in Andreas Hofer: Freiheitskampf in 1929.

Copies of this film are widely available.