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