Peasants’ Paradise: A Video Tour of the Black Forest and Bavaria
Bavaria and the Black Forest are among some of the favorite vacation destinations in Germany. A lot has changed in 80 years but perhaps surprisingly much remains the same and a long-forgotten short film gives us a unique window on Germany in the last days of the Weimar Republic.
In the Internet Archive, mixed in with other forgotten classics, old horror movies, and old newsreels, is a collection of travelogues. A recent addition to this collection is “Peasants’ Paradise,” a 10-minute short from the 1930s about southern Germany, mostly the Black Forest and Bavaria.
It was produced by Educational Films, a movie company that was founded in 1915 by Earle W. Hammons, which not only produced educational films but also many highly-regarded comedy shorts. It stars Claude Flemming, an Austrian actor and writer. The film was produced in 1931, was shot in Multicolor, and was not colorized.
Peasants’ Paradise is appealing on many levels. First, there is the personal connection: I have visited almost all the locales, although not the town where the featured cuckoo clock was made. There are classic shots of the Lindau harbor and lighthouse, the Glockenspiel in the Rathaus at Marienplatz in Munich, and aerial views from the GraffZeppelin over the countryside. These seem timeless, although many of the buildings highlighted in the film have been restored or rebuilt over the years.
The second half of the film focuses on the Bavarian Alps, from Garmisch to Oberammergau to the Eibsee and the Zugspitz. I find the stereotypes charming in retrospect, such as “the cleanliness and order of the villages” and “happiness day” (Sunday).
Despite its age, this travelogue still provides an interesting introduction to the region for the first-time visitor as well as a way of triggering memories after one’s return.