Kuhle Wampe, or Who Owns the World?

Original title: (Kuhle Wampe oder Wem gehört die Welt?)
Germany, 1932, 74 min, b&w
In German; English subtitles

A working-class family in Berlin in 1931 where survival is difficult, with massive unemployment in the wake of the Great Depression. After Anni's brother commits suicide in despair, her family finds itself forced to move to Kuhle Wampe, a lakeside camp on the outskirts of Berlin, now home to increasing numbers of unemployed. When Anni's relationship with Franz ends, she moves back to Berlin and gets involved in the workers' youth movement.


The DVD release is the 2008 digitally-restored transfer of the original Weimar period masterpiece (69 minutes). The DEFA Film Library collaborated on the restoration with absolut MEDIEN and OMNIMAGO using a 35mm duplicate negative and positive produced from a 35mm print that was given to the East German State Film Archive by the Cinémathèque Française in 1956 or 1957.


The Kanopy release presents the 2020 HD version. It is most complete version of the film (74 minutes) with vastly improved sound and image quality. The films was digitized and restored in 2K resolution at ARRI Media on behalf of the Deutsche Kinemathek, Berlin. A 35mm nitrate print of the original German version from the British Film Institute served as a template. Additions were made from materials held by Praesens-Film AG at the Cinémathèque Suisse, a fragment of a 35mm nitrate print of the French version and a duplicate negative of the German version. However, the censored passages couldn’t be reconstructed.

Special features:
  • Improved English subtitles, supervised by Brecht scholar Marc Silbermann
  • How the Berlin Worker Lives (1930, dir. Slatan Dudow)
  • Slatan Dudow: A Film Essay about a Marxist Artist (1974, dir. Volker Koepp)
  • Original Prolog to Kuhle Wampe, with Herbert Jhering, 1958
  • Before & After: Restoring Kuhle Wampe (2008, dir. Marta Carlson)
  • “At the Hairdresser’s with Brecht and Dudow,” from a 1981 interview by film historian Ralf Schenk
  • “On Kuhle Wampe,” an essay by film scholar Marc Silberman
  • "The Second Life of Kuhle Wampe," by Wolfgang Klaue
  • Biographies & Filmographies

Kuhle Wampe, or Who Owns the World?

Screening Rights: 
Educational Streaming

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