The Merry Wives of Windsor (1950 film)

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The Merry Wives of Windsor
The Merry Wives of Windsor (1950 film).jpg
Theatrical film poster
German Die lustigen Weiber von Windsor
Directed by Georg Wildhagen
Written by
Starring Sonja Ziemann
Camilla Spira
Paul Esser
Ina Halley
Cinematography Eugen Klagemann
Karl Plintzner
Music byOtto Nicolai (opera)
Distributed by Progress Film
Release date
  • 22 October 1950 (1950-10-22)
Running time
96 minutes
CountryEast Germany

The Merry Wives of Windsor (German : Die lustigen Weiber von Windsor) is a 1950 East German musical comedy film directed by Georg Wildhagen. It was based on William Shakespeare's play by the same name.



In Elizabethan England, Sir John Falstaff is embroiled in attempting to have a love affair with several women, which soon turns into a humorous adventure.



The film is an adaptation of the 1849 opera The Merry Wives of Windsor composed by Otto Nicolai with a libretto by Salomon Hermann Mosenthal which was based on William Shakespeare's play of the same title. It was made by the state-owned DEFA studio on a large budget. [1]


The film was highly successful by East German standards, [2] and drew 6,090,329 viewers to the cinemas. [3] Ernst Richter noted that while "the socially critical tone was unmistakably present in the film", it was free of "heavy-handed communist propaganda". [4] Heinz Kersten characterized it as one of the last apolitical entertainment pictures produced by DEFA before the Socialist Unity Party of Germany tightened its control on the national film industry. [2] Albert Wilkening wrote it was "a significant step forward in making movies in the GDR... Wildhagen's directing was quite skillful". [5]

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John Falstaff recurring character in several of Shakespeares plays

Sir John Falstaff is a fictional character who appears in three plays by William Shakespeare and is eulogised in a fourth. His significance as a fully developed character is primarily formed in the plays Henry IV, Part 1 and Part 2, where he is a companion to Prince Hal, the future King Henry V of England. A notable eulogy for Falstaff is presented in Act II, Scene III of Henry V, where Falstaff does not appear as a character on stage, as enacted by Mistress Quickly in terms that some scholars have ascribed to Plato's description of the death of Socrates after drinking hemlock. By comparison, Falstaff is presented as the buffoonish suitor of two married women in The Merry Wives of Windsor.

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The Merry Wives of Windsor or Sir John Falstaff and the Merry Wives of Windsor is a comedy by William Shakespeare first published in 1602, though believed to have been written in or before 1597. The Windsor of the play's title is a reference to the town of Windsor, also the location of Windsor Castle, in Berkshire, England. Though nominally set in the reign of Henry IV or early in the reign of Henry V, the play makes no pretence to exist outside contemporary Elizabethan era English middle class life. It features the character Sir John Falstaff, the fat knight who had previously been featured in Henry IV, Part 1 and Part 2. It has been adapted for the opera at least ten times. The play is one of Shakespeare's lesser-regarded works among literary critics. Tradition has it that The Merry Wives of Windsor was written at the request of Queen Elizabeth I. After watching Henry IV Part I, she asked Shakespeare to write a play showing Falstaff in love.

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  1. Davidson, John; Hake, Sabine (2008) [2007]. Framing the Fifties: Cinema in a Divided Germany. Berghahn Books. p. 220. ASIN   B00694BSSE. ISBN   1845455363.
  2. 1 2 Kersten, Heinz (1963) [1954]. Das Filmwesen in der Sowjetischen Besatzungszone Deutschlands (in German). Bonn: Ministry of Intra-German Relations. p. 29, 52. ASIN   B0000BK48P. OCLC   43510419.
  3. List of the 50 highest-grossing DEFA films.
  4. Richert, Ernst. Agitation und Propaganda : das System der publizistischen Massenführung in der Sowjetzone. Institut für politische Wissenschaft (1958). p. 245. OCLC   185953805.
  5. Wilkening, Albert. Film. VEB Bibliographisches Institut (1966). p. 165. OCLC   7216389.