Spider's Web (film)

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Spider's Web
Directed by Bernhard Wicki
Produced by Peter Hahne
Written by Wolfgang Kirchner
Joseph Roth
Bernhard Wicki
Starring Ulrich Mühe
Cinematography Gérard Vandenberg
Edited by Tanja Schmidbauer
Release date
  • 21 September 1989 (1989-09-21)
Running time
196 minutes
Country Germany
Language German

Spider's Web: A Pig's Tale (German: Das Spinnennetz) is a 1989 West German film directed by Bernhard Wicki. It is based on the eponymous 1923 novel by Joseph Roth. It was chosen as West Germany's official submission to the 62nd Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film, but did not manage to receive a nomination.[1] The film was the last ever submission by West Germany, due to German reunification in 1990, Germany competed at the 63rd Academy Awards as a single country.

The film was also entered into the 1989 Cannes Film Festival.[2]


The film centers on young right-wing Leutnant (lieutenant) Theodor Lohse (Ulrich Mühe) who suffers personal and national humiliation during the downfall of the German Empire and the subsequent German Revolution of 1918 as the aftermath of World War I, from whence on he pledges revenge on all those he blames for the new times: Democrats, socialists, and Jews. Thus, he becomes increasingly active in the right-wing underground of the early Weimar Republic, joining an organization called "S II" (probably based on real-life Organisation Consul that was responsible for a number of political and anti-Semitic assassinations) where his immediate superior is Baron von Rastchuk (Armin Mueller-Stahl). Baron von Rastchuk brings Lohse in contact with Prince Heinrich in order to get Lohse employed, a favor for which the homosexual Prince demands one-time bodily obligingness from Lohse. In spite of his apparent shock and disgust, Lohse yields to the Prince out of his opportunism and willingness to please his superiors.

Lohse becomes a full-time spy for the organization, and with unprecedented, relentless opportunism and unscrupulousness he spies in on Communist plots, partakes in the organization's plans to undermine the new German democracy, and disposes of his own right-wing colleagues when he sees fit, all of which to serve his own plans of rising to the top within right-wing circles. During these activities he comes in contact with Benjamin Lenz (Klaus Maria Brandauer), a Jewish man dealing in informations on all kinds of criminal and underground political proceedings who will always sell at the highest price, be it paid by left or right-wing conspirators or the police. In spite of Lohse's hatred of Jews, he finds Lenz's services useful, but soon finds himself at his mercy as Lenz through their collaboration finds out more and more about Lohse's schemes and spy activities.

When Lenz learns that Lohse ordered a pogrom of the local Jewish ghetto, he confronts the rather short and slim-built Lohse in private, beating him close to senselessness and almost forces Lohse to commit suicide by jumping out of a window, until he realizes that killing Lohse would not make him any better than the anti-Semite that had ordered the violence in the ghetto. Lohse then has his henchmen murder Lenz, also because he knew too much, by pushing him in front of an approaching train. The film ends in late 1923 with Lohse leaving a festivity of conservatives and monarchists, declaring that restoring the monarchy has by now become "old hat", and with glowing eyes he mentions a "new man" preparing a putsch in Munich to count on - a man named Adolf Hitler.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ H. G. Pflaum. "On the history of the German candidates for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film". German Films. Retrieved 2008-08-27. 
  2. ^ "Festival de Cannes: Spider's Web". festival-cannes.com. Retrieved 2009-08-01. 

External links[edit]