Behn-Grund, Friedl

Biography:

Friedl Behn-Grund was born in Bad Polzin (now Polczyn-Zdrój, Poland) on August 26, 1906. In 1924, he started as an assistant to the UFA cinematographer Erich Waschneck. One year later, Behn-Grund worked as the director of photography for Waschneck’s directorial debut, Kampf um die Scholle. He continued working as the director’s preferred cinematographer on almost 20 film projects until 1937. During these years, he also joined director Richard Oswald on several of his films, including Ehe in Not and Dreyfus.

 

From 1936 to 1945, Behn-Grund was employed at the Tobis film production company. In addition to many other entertainment films, he was the cameraman for the 1943 version of Titanic (dir. Herbert Selpin). In another vein, he shot the Nazi propaganda film Ich klage an (dir. Wolfgang Liebeneiner), which was commissioned by Joseph Goebbels to increase public support for the Reich’s euthanasia program. This notorious film won the Biennale Cup at the 1941 Venice Film Festival, and was banned by the Allies after the war.

 

Behn-Grund shot the first German postwar film, Die Mörder sind unter uns, directed by Wolfgang Staudte and produced at the DEFA Studio. His camera style in this film built on expressionist point-of-view shots, which he had developed for the 1932 UFA production, Ich bei Tag und du bei Nacht (dir. Ludwig Berger). Behn-Grund’s work at DEFA included seven films, mainly dealing with coming to terms with WWII, including the postwar classics Ehe im Schatten, Affaire Blum and Rat der Götter. Although the plot and message of Ehe im Schatten were diametrically opposed to his earlier Nazi propaganda piece, it is interesting to note that he arranged the final death scene in almost the same constellation as he did in a similar scene in Ich klage an. Behn-Grund made other films with Wolfgang Staudte (Ich habe von dir geträumt, Frau über Bord), as well as Falk Harnack (Nacht der Entscheidung, Unruhige Nacht), two noted directors who were at the DEFA Studio before they left for West Germany in the 1950s.

 

Behn-Grund’s oeuvre includes over 200 films he shot for well-known German directors—including Robert A. Stemmle, Helmut Käutner and Kurt Hoffmann—in genres ranging from comedy and musical, to crime and drama. In 1974, he received the German Film Award in Gold for his contribution to German film and was awarded the Honorary German Camera Prize as a Grandseigneur of Camera.

 

Friedl Behn-Grund died on August 2, 1989 in Berlin.

Awards:

1974 German Film Award in Gold for contribution to German film
1974 Honorary German Camera Prize as a Grandseigneur of Camera

Filmography:

1966 Die Fliegen (The Flies, TV)
1962 Eheinstitut Aurora (Marriage Bureau Aurora)
1959 Buddenbrooks (The Buddenbrooks)
1958 Unruhige Nacht (Restless Night)
1957 Bekenntnisse der Hochstaplers Felix Krull (Confessions of Felix Krull)
1957 Wie ein Sturmwind (Tempestuous Love)
1956 Nacht der Entscheidung (Decision Night)
1956 Ein Mädchen aus Flandern (A Girl from Flanders)
1954 Das fliegende Klassenzimmer (The Flying Classroom)
1950 Der Rat der Götter (Council of the Gods)
1949 Begegnung mit Werther (Encounter with Werther)
1949 Die Buntkarierten (Girls in Gingham)
1948 Die seltsamen Abenteuer des Fridolin B. (The Adventures of Fridolin B.)
1948 Affaire Blum (The Blum Affair)
1947 Razzia (The Police Raid)
1947 Ehe im Schatten (Marriage in the Shadows)
1946 Die Mörder sind unter uns (The Murderers Are Among Us)
1945 Das Mädchen Juanita/Frau über Bord (Woman Overboard)
1944 Ich habe von dir geträmt (I Dreamt About You)
1942 Die Nacht in Venedig (The Night in Venice)
1942 Titanic
1941 Ich klage an (I Accuse)
1932 Ich bei Tag und du bei Nacht (I by Day, You by Night)
1930 Dreyfus (The Dreyfus Case)
1929 Jenseits der Straße (Harbor Drift)
1927 Brennende Grenze (Aftermath)
1926 Die Warenhausprinzessin (The Department Store Princess)
1925 Kampf um die Scholle (Fight for the Soil)

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