The film centers on a family divided by politics. While the son, a staunch Prussian, is horrified by his father's treacherous support for the French, he equally condemns the local patriots' mindless spirit of revenge.
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Plainly based upon a novel (originally published in 1889) which had already been filmed in 1915 and would be filmed again ten years later; the Nazi era remake would make an interesting comparison paired with this in a double bill! It takes a while to get the hang of things as characters stand about nursing old grievances looking suitably outraged and pledging undying enmity; but eventually things fall into place, and at 137 minutes one has plenty of times to get one's bearings.
Ornately mounted in wintry landscapes at the time of the Napoleonic Wars, it's sprawling narrative coalesces satisfactorily in the hands of director Gerhard Lamprecht and cameraman Karl Hasselmann, who make unfussy use of dissolves, tracks and whip pans.