Madchen in Uniform

| November 8, 2010

The historic 1931 version of Madchen in Uniform was given new life in 1958 by director Géza von Radványi and Technicolor’s blushing soft glow. Despite the cold militaristic setting at a girls’ boarding school in pre-WWII Germany, love prevails against authoritarianism, a radical message for the time. Fraeulein Elisabeth Von Bernburg, the beloved “Bernburg” as the girls call her, is the one compassionate teacher in the sterile school. Yet when her affection for her students makes her the obsession of the new girl Manuela Meinhardis, she risks defending this complicated and forbidden love.
The rosey lips and blond hair of the beautiful Bernburg (Lilli Palmer) and her adoring unspoiled student Manuela Meinhardis (Romy Schneider) are the exception to this pale, loveless institution. The two actresses took a major risk in this post-war lesbian film classic. There are few lesbian films which have earned this acclaim until Desert Hearts, Bound, or Go Fish. Already an international star, Lili Palmer took a daring risk by playing this controversial lesbian role. Schneider would go on to act in films by Otto Preminger, Henri-Georges Clouzot, Luchino Visconti, Orson Welles and Jules Dassin. The affections could otherwise be misperceived as sexual or predatory without the astuteness of its creators who balance the ethics and concentrate on the mutual affection that Manuela and the other girls so desperately need.
Madchen in uniform was a selection at Outfest, LA and Frameline, San Francisco. The DVD is available for purchase from

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