G. W. Pabst

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G. W. Pabst
G.W. Pabst crop from Pabst Prejean 1931.jpg
G. W. Pabst during production of the film L'Opéra de quat'sous (The Threepenny Opera) in 1931
Born (1885-08-25)25 August 1885
Raudnitz, Bohemia, Austria-Hungary (now Czech Republic)
Died 29 May 1967(1967-05-29) (aged 81)
Vienna, Austria
Years active 1901–1957
Spouse(s) Gertrude Hennings (m. 1924–67)

Georg Wilhelm Pabst, known professionally as G. W. Pabst, (25 August 1885 – 29 May 1967) was an Austrian film director.

Life and career[edit]

Pabst was born in Raudnitz, Bohemia, Austria-Hungary (today's Roudnice nad Labem, Czech Republic), the son of a railroad employee.

Returning from the United States, he was in France when World War I began. He was interned there near Brest until 1919.

Some of his most famous films concern the plight of women in German society, including The Joyless Street (1925) with Greta Garbo and Asta Nielsen, Geheimnisse einer Seele (1926) with Lili Damita, The Loves of Jeanne Ney (1927) with Brigitte Helm, Pandora's Box (1929), and Diary of a Lost Girl (1929) with American actress Louise Brooks. He also co-directed with Arnold Fanck a mountain film entitled The White Hell of Pitz Palu (1929) starring Leni Riefenstahl.

After the coming of sound he made a trilogy of films that secured his reputation: Westfront 1918 (1930), The Threepenny Opera (1931) with Lotte Lenya (based on the Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill musical), and Kameradschaft (1931). Pabst also filmed three versions of Pierre Benoit's novel L'Atlantide in 1932, in German, English, and French, titled Die Herrin von Atlantis, The Mistress of Atlantis, and L'Atlantide, respectively. In 1933, Pabst directed Don Quixote, once again in German, English, and French versions.

After making A Modern Hero (1934) in the U.S. and Mademoiselle Docteur (1936) in France, Pabst returned to Austria and Germany in 1938 to take care of family business, he said later. During World War II, he made two films in Germany, Komödianten (1941) and Paracelsus (1943).

In 1953, Pabst directed four opera productions in Italy: La forza del destino for the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino in Florence (conducted by Dimitri Mitropoulos, the cast included Renata Tebaldi, Fedora Barbieri, Mario del Monaco, Aldo Protti, Cesare Siepi), and a few weeks later, for the Arena di Verona Festival, a spectacular Aïda, with Maria Callas in the title role (conducted by Tullio Serafin, with del Monaco), Il trovatore and again La forza del destino.[1]

Pabst died in Vienna, Austria.[2] He was interred at the Zentralfriedhof in Vienna.


Grave of G. W. Pabst, his wife and son at the Zentralfriedhof in Vienna

Awards and Prizes[edit]

1941, Venice Film Festival: Gold Medal of the Biennale for Best Director for his film Komödianten[3]



  1. ^ "Music: Pabst's Blue Ribbon" Time *August 10, 1953)
  2. ^ Reuters (May 31, 1967). "G. W. Pabst, Maker Of Films Abroad. Early Viennese Producer and Director Dies at 82". New York Times. Retrieved 2010-03-19. G. W. Pabst, the Austrian film producer and director, died here last night. He was 82 years old. ... In a career that reached back to the days of the silent movies, Mr. Pabst achieved an international reputation as one of the medium's masters, He ranged from comedy to tragedy to fantasy to social satire and criticism with the assurance of one who was ... 
  3. ^ "ASAC Dati: Premi". Retrieved 2014-09-30. 

Further reading

  • Amengual, Barthélémy. G.W. Pabst. Paris, Seghers, 1966
  • Atwell, Lee. G.W. Pabst. Boston, Twayne Publishers, 1977
  • Baxter, John. "G.W. Pabst" in International Directory of Films and Filmmakers. Chicago, 1990. pp. 376–378
  • Groppali, Enrico. Georg W. Pabst. Firenze, La Nuova Italia, 1983
  • Jacobsen, Wolfgang (ed.) G.W. Pabst. Berlin, Argen, 1997
  • Kagelmann, Andre and Keiner, Reinhold. "Lässig beginnt der Tod, Mensch und Tier zu ernten: Überlegungen zu Ernst Johannsens Roman Vier von der Infanterie und G. W. Pabsts Film Westfront 1918" in Johannsen, Eric; Kassell (ed.) Vier von der Infanterie. Ihre letzen Tage an der Westfront 1918. Media Net-Edition, 2014. S. 80-113. ISBN 978-3-939988-23-6
  • Kracauer, Siegfried. De Caligari à Hitler. Une histoire psychologique du cinéma allemand, Paris, Flammarion, 1987
  • Mitry, Jean. Histoire du cinéma: Art et industrie (5 volumes) Paris, Editions Universitaires – J.P. Delarge, 1967–1980
  • Rentschler, Eric (ed.) The Films of G.W. Pabst. An extraterritorial cinema. New Brunswick, Rutgers University Press, 1990
  • Pabst, Georg Wilhelm. "Servitude et grandeur de Hollywood" in Le rôle intellectuel du cinéma, Paris, SDN-Institut International de Coopération Intellectuelle, 1937. pp. 251–255
  • Van den Berghe, Marc. La mémoire impossible. Westfront 1918 de G.W. Pabst. Grande Guerre, soldats, automates. Le film et sa problématique vus par la 'Petite Illustration' (1931), Bruxelles, 200

External links[edit]