Mother Courage and Her Children

Original title: (Mutter Courage und ihre Kinder)
GDR, 1960, 151 min, b&w
In German; English subtitles

Set during the Thirty Years’ War, in the first half of the 17th century: Anna Fierling, also called Mother Courage, is a merchant with a wagonload of food and goods. She stays out of politics, following the armies as they move back and forth across Central Europe, and does not bemoan war’s injustices. She is passionately committed to her three children and tries to protect them. But one after the other, she loses them to the war from which she profits. This does not change her mind about war, however, and Mother Courage diligently continues to ply her trade. 


This film is strictly modelled upon the 1949 Berliner Ensemble (BE) production of Mother Courage and Her Children by Bertolt Brecht and Erich Engel. A film adaptation had been in discussion since the late 1940s; but neither Erich Engel nor director Wolfgang Staudte, who had already shot parts of an earlier version of the film in 1955, were able to please Brecht. Finally, Peter Palitzsch and Manfred Wekwerth, two BE directors, took on the project and produced a film in the tradition of Brecht’s epic theater with actors of the BE ensemble.

Mother Courage and Her Children

Screening Rights: 
Educational Streaming

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