Schulanfang Mädchenschule (LFS 01421 6)

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Beginning of elementary school and garden work at a school for Girls.


Reference / film number :  LFS 01421 6
Date :  1962
Coloration :  Color
Sound :  Mute
Running time :  00:02:22
Reel format :  8 mm
Genre :  Amateur movie
Thematics :  Body and Health, Sport, Identity, Traditions, Rural life
Archive :  Haus des Dokumentarfilms

Context and analysis

The photographer walks to the front, the camera with the flashlight hung around his neck, turns around to the schoolhouse to shoot photos of the first grade who come straight out of the school door. He looks casually into the film camera, which is positioned not far away. Photographer and amateur filmmaker meet: The first is now in the picture, as he attaches to making pictures, to the photos from the first day of school in the Philippsburg Jerome Nopp School, which was still in April in the year 1962.

To date, notwithstanding the new digital recording techniques, not much has changed in the photos of that special day. Not to be missed is the portrait shot with the school bag in her arm - it represents an important turning point in the life story. The education system and pedagogy have changed. In 1964, Georg Picht's book on the "German educational catastrophe" triggered an educational revolution. Elementary schools and high schools in their surviving form stood for a school system that, in the absence of equal opportunities, confirmed the class structure of society. Above all, however, the educational ideals had nothing to do with the presence of bourgeois modernity and the demands of a changing labor market. The child at school was a kind of subject whose will had to be broken. Virtues such as discipline, diligence and obedience were at the top of the list: Memorizing and writing, pawing and standing in the corner shape the image of the school as disciplinary power.

Does the amateur film show more and more from the beginning of the school than photos from the same event? The children come out of the darkness of the school door, first students of the higher classes, two of them beat drums in the front. The teacher at her side immediately stands out in the medium shot: in a dark suit and with papers in his hand, he looks carefully back to disappear with the group of older pupils from the picture. Now the first graders with the school bag appear in the door: walking next to each other, some hold each other's hands. After a cut, she gets the camera in the foreground in the half-close approach - until in the background, the young teacher with the girl class draws the eye on itself: In the bright costume, she leads the girls with a calm gesture down the stairs, before after a cut alone into the picture comes and lets pass the camera.

The movement of the children has come into flux and shows up as the familiar image of starting school. The teachers prove to be the 'good shepherds', they have a 'herd' that is willing to be guided. Power relationships are inconspicuously reflected in leadership relationships - and become visible in the scene in the 'image' of shepherd and herd. The movement of the first graders out of school becomes a kind of procession with which the authoritarian pedagogy of the time disappears in the appearance of a pastoral ritual.

The movement of the group coagulates into individual images that emerge from the river, as well as the attitude with the young teacher in the white costume - and finally the image of the mothers who step out of the school door behind the second girl class. In the background, other buildings become visible as they approach the camera after a cut behind the children. The ordered movement of the group dissolves, turning the settings into scenes, to 'appearances' of those reacting to the presence of the camera. With two women who talk, it remains with a curt gesture towards amateur film. A gentleman with children behind reacts more strongly, raises his hand in greeting and speaks into the camera. The moving images gather together the scenes of a 'performance', which now also reveals the performance character that was still obscured in the scenes of the first year's turn. A movement that at first produced a picture of shepherds and herd becomes a movement of the performance of individual scenes, which eventually leads to the demolition of the film: a gentleman in a group of three points with jovial gesture to his neighbor, speaks in the direction of the camera, then to approach the amateur filmmaker who can not continue filming in this situation.

This amateur movie not only depicts the scenes from the first day of school. He transforms them into a 'stage' for those involved, into the movement of a performance that is no longer controllable for the amateur filmmaker. The following pictures from the garden of the Philippsburger School for working girls, pictures of the plantings in the strictly arranged beds, also seem like an attempt to bring a little bit of order to the film.

Reiner Bader

Places and monuments


  1. This film analysis is still in progress. It may therefore be incomplete and contain errors.