The fourth commandment (1920)

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Original title The fourth commandment
Country of production Austria ,
original language German
Publishing year 1920
length 94 minutes
Director Richard Oswald
script Richard Oswald
production Richard Oswald
camera Otto Kanturek

The fourth commandment is an Austrian-German silent film drama from 1920 by Richard Oswald based on the play of the same name by Ludwig Anzengruber with Louis Ralph in the leading role.


Hedwig Hutterer loves the penniless piano teacher Robert Frey. Her father forbids the relationship as he does not consider it befitting and orders her to marry the rich bon vivant Stolzenthaler. Hedwig turns to Priest Eduard, who advises her, however, to keep to the fourth commandment: “You should honor your father and mother” ... and be an obedient daughter. The Schalanter family lives right next door. The father, a drinker, works as a master craftsman, the mother is a matchmaker. Daughter Josepha once had an affair with Stolzenthaler, son Martin, a soldier, was neglected by her parents. Both grandmothers warn the children about their parents' bad example.

One year later. Hedwig gave birth to a sickly child, her marriage to Stolzenthaler is broken. Piano teacher Frey has become Martin's superior in the military and is dissatisfied with his unreliability and lack of discipline. When Hedwig meets Frey by chance, he asks her to talk to them and arrange a meeting point. Martin Schalanter and his father eavesdrop on the two of them when they meet. Martin wants to take revenge on Frey for the harassing treatment in the military and informs Hedwig's husband Stolzenthaler about the encounter. This assumes that Hedwig is cheating on him and throws her out of the house. At the agreed meeting point, an inn, the rest of the Schalanters appear and join Frey at the table. A dispute ensues, as a result of which Martin Frey shoots. The dying Frey is taken to the next town, Hedwig is present when he dies. Martin is arrested, tried and sentenced to death for murder.

Hedwig and Stolzenthaler are divorced, their child is dead. Hedwig is mentally broken and close to death. Father Hutterer admits his guilt for their misery. On his death row, Martin Schalanter only wants to see Priest Eduard, his former school friend, but not his parents. Martin confesses to Eduard that he envies his intact parental home. Shortly before the execution, Schalanter visits his grandmother. Eduard is also present. Martin realizes that the grandmother was right in her assessment of the wickedness of his parents and replies to the priest on his admonition “Remember the fourth commandment !: It's easy for you, you don't know that it is the greatest misfortune for some, of hers Parents to be raised. If you learn from the children in school: Honor father and mother, tell the parents from the pulpit that it should be like that. "

Production notes

The fourth commandment , also known as Martin Schalanter’s last course. A parental tragedy , originated in Vienna in 1920 and was premiered on December 3, 1920 in Berlin's Richard Oswald-Lichtspiele. The length of the five-stroke (in Austria) and six-stroke (in Germany) was 1945 meters.


“Richard Oswald's directing knows how to get even more out of it, above all to give a dramatic structure and thus a profound effect (...) The cast was brilliant (...) Louis Ralph in particular offered an outstanding performance that will not soon be matched. A Viennese folk piece, Richard Oswald knew how to fully preserve this character. "

- New Kino-Rundschau

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Neue Kino-Rundschau of January 8, 1921. p. 17