The Sabotage Legend

Titel

The Sabotage Legend
The Sabotage Legend

The first short sound film by the Tri-Ergon Department of Ufa, "Das Mädchen mit den Schwefelhölzern" (The Little Match Girl), was a failed attempt to establish the primacy of the sound-on-film process. The reason for this failure was thought to be more than just technical problems. As it has happened often in Germany's history, a rumor arose at the time that foreign powers were involved. The equipment was supposedly sabotaged, so that the premiere, and with it, the entire sound-on-film experiment, would be fated to run aground due to technical defects. Specifically, it was suspected (by Guido Bagier, for instance, who was the artistic director of the Tri-Ergon Department as well as the director of "Das Mädchen mit den Schwefelhölzern" that the sabotage was carried out by the United States. Following the unsuccessful film premiere on December 20, 1925, Bagier wrote in his notes: "Outside, in the hall, I met the inventor, Dr. Engl, pale and barely in control of himself: 'Someone must have caused a short in the batteries during the night - this is purposeful sabotage!' But there was nothing to be done about the wretched outcome. Was it even possible to ascertain who was responsible? As I slunk out into the lobby with Kapellmeister Wagner (...) I heard, unnoticed, how a man who seemed to be a foreigner whispered to his companion: 'It worked - the German sound film is finished!'" (Bagier, Guido: "'Ton mehr aufdrehen – verstärken!' Guido Bagier über die Tri-Ergon-Abteilung der Ufa", in: Hans-Michael Bock / Michael Töteberg (eds.): Das Ufa-Buch, Frankfurt/Main, 1992, p. 247)

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