How was the film “The Old Gun” received in Germany when it was released?

When The Old Gun was released in Germany in 1976, the country was still split in two.

The film will be released in West Germany under the title Abschied in der Nacht Farewell in the Night ) and in East Germany under the title Das alte Gewehr The Old Rifle ).

The title change won’t be the only difference between the two releases.

These are truly two different versions of Robert Enrico’s film that will be made for each territory.

Oddly enough, it was in West Germany that several sequences of the film were censored.

The film’s distributor, without any orders from the West German authorities, decided to cut several shots deemed too violent and modified the dialogues of the German soldiers during the drinking scene, considered inhumane.

A scene in which an SS officer is seen speaking is also rewritten for the German version, presenting the character in a better light, so as not to give too dark an image of the German characters.

The film is therefore dubbed into German and some dialogues are watered down or completely reworked.

Romy Schneider, who personally dubbed all of her films for the German market, refused to participate in the dubbing of the West German version because of these changes.

As for the version of the film broadcast in East Germany, it will be an uncensored version conforming to the French version, also dubbed in German (Romy Schneider will not participate in this version either, the proposed fee not being sufficient).

This example perfectly illustrates the self-censorship that West Germany, filled with guilt, imposed on itself with regard to its past. Not out of revisionism, but out of shame.

In the East, where on the contrary there was an attempt to dissociate oneself from Nazi Germany by dwelling on its misdeeds, censorship did not look askance at works that depicted the monstrosity of Nazism.

When The Old Gun was released on West German screens, it was not a success. It would be the least known film in Romy Schneider’s filmography, which was otherwise very popular in Germany.

The film was shown in few theaters and did not attract crowds. It was also panned by critics, who criticized it for its voyeurism and its partial representation of history.

As for the reception of the film in East Germany, I have not found any information on this subject. It must be said that information did not circulate very fluidly there…

Note that The Old Gun would not be released in its entirety in (reunified) Germany until 2007, when it was released on DVD. Until then, it was the “censored” version that was occasionally shown on television.

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