Max Ophüls

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Max Ophüls ( ˈofʏls , in exile Ophul and from 1941 Opuls, actually: Max Oppenheimer; born May 6, 1902 in St. Johann , a district of Saarbrücken since 1909 ; † March 26, 1957 in Hamburg ) was an important German - French film -, theater and radio play director . The Max Ophüls Prize is named after him and has been awarded annually to young German-speaking filmmakers since 1980 as part of the Saarbrücken film festival named after this prize .


Max Ophüls' birth house on Försterstrasse in the Nauwieser Viertel in Saarbrücken

Ophüls (he adopted this artist name in 1920) was born in Saarbrücken as the son of the Jewish textile merchant Leopold Oppenheimer and his wife Helene. The house where he was born in Försterstrasse in the Nauwieser Viertel is still there today. Initially, Ophüls embarked on a career as an actor. He played at the Aachen Theater (1921–1923) and directed at the Dortmund City Theater for the first time. From 1925 Ophüls also worked for radio . He was also engaged as an actor at the Vienna Burgtheater in 1925 and 1926 and directed at the Akademietheater . At the Burgtheater he met the actress Hilde Wall (1894–1980), who in 1926 became his wife.

Shortly after the premiere of his fourth production, Ophüls was fired in 1926 in the wake of the rise of anti-Semitism . From 1926 to 1928 he was engaged at the New Theater in Frankfurt . He then worked as a director in Breslau until 1930 , where he staged works by Klabund , Bulgakow , Hauptmann , Lampel , Kleist and Wedekind , among others , and received recognition for them. He then came to Berlin, where he assisted the Russian filmmaker Anatole Litvak in directing a dialogue. In 1931 Ophüls made his first film, which is now considered lost, Then I prefer cod liver oil based on an original story by Erich Kästner . After two more films in 1932, he had his breakthrough as a film director with the Schnitzler film adaptation Liebelei (1932/1933).

The rise of the National Socialists to power made it impossible for Ophüls to continue working in Germany. He left Berlin in March 1933; After a short stay in Saarbrücken, he went to Paris with his family , where he continued his work as a director and screenwriter almost seamlessly. In 1938 Max Ophüls became a French citizen. In 1941 he fled to America, where he directed several films between 1946 and 1949 under the Anglicised stage name Max Ophuls. In 1949 he returned to Paris from Los Angeles . Here he shot a few films until his death in 1957, of which Lola Montez is the best known.

Max Ophüls died of heart disease in Hamburg in 1957 and was buried in Paris in the columbarium of the Père Lachaise cemetery. His memoirs, published posthumously in 1959 , are titled Spiel im Dasein. A flashback .

His son Marcel Ophüls also became a successful director and documentary filmmaker.


Tomb of Max Ophüls in the Père-Lachaise cemetery in Paris
Memorial stele on Max-Ophüls-Platz (formerly Nauwieser Platz) in Saarbrücken
  • 1931: Love Never Again (assistant director)
  • 1931: Then I prefer cod liver oil (also co-author of the script; lost)
  • 1932: The company in love
  • 1932: The Bartered Bride , film adaptation of Bedřich Smetana 's opera of the same name
  • 1933: Laughing Heirs (also co-author of the script)
  • 1933: Liebelei (also co-author of the script)
  • 1933: Une Histoire d'Amour (French version of Liebelei )
  • 1934: The Stolen Millionaire (On a volé un homme)
  • 1934: A diva for everyone (La signora di tutti) (also co-author of the screenplay)
  • 1935: Divine (also co-writer of the screenplay)
  • 1935: La Valse brilliant (short film)
  • 1935: Ave Maria de Schubert (short film)
  • 1935: Comedy about money (Komedie om geld) (also co-author of the screenplay)
  • 1936: Tender enemy (La Tendre Ennemie) (also co-author of the screenplay)
  • 1937: Yoshiwara (also co-writer of the script)
  • 1938: Le Roman de Werther , based on The Sorrows of Young Werther by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
  • 1940: Without a morning (Sans lendemain) (also co-author of the script)
  • 1940: From Mayerling to Sarajevo (De Mayerling à Sarajevo)
  • 1941: L'École des femmes (also co-author of the screenplay; unfinished and lost)
  • 1946/1950: Vendetta (directed some scenes that were not used in the film)
  • 1947: The Exile
  • 1948: Letter from an Unknown (Letter from an Unknown Woman) by Stefan Zweig
  • 1948: capturing (Caught)
  • 1949: Hush money for love letters (The Reckless Moment)
  • 1950: Der Reigen (La Ronde) , based on the Arthur Schnitzler drama Reigen (also co-author of the screenplay)
  • 1951: Pläsier (Le Plaisir) - three parts (also co-author of the script)
  • 1953: Madame de… - based on the novella by Louise de Vilmorin (also co-author of the screenplay)
  • 1955: Lola Montez (Lola Montès) (also co-writer of the script)
  • 1957: Montparnasse 19 (Les amants de Montparnasse) (co-writer of the script, which was heavily modified by director Jacques Becker )

The opening credits of Montparnasse 19 contain a dedication to Max Ophüls, who died in 1957.

Radio plays


  • 2010: Lola Montès - Second Sight , 110 minutes. French with English subtitles. 70-minute documentary, audio commentary by Susan White
  • 2018: Lola Montez and Liebelei , 116 min. and 84 min. German-language double DVD edition plus documentation from the Filmmuseum and Alive


Star by Max Ophüls on the Boulevard der Stars in Berlin


Film documentaries

  • Max Ophüls - The beautiful good goods. German TV documentary by Martina Müller, 1990
  • Life: a carousel - Max Ophüls and his work. German TV documentary by Georg Bense, 2002


Web links

Commons : Max Ophüls  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

supporting documents

  1. ^ Duden online: Ophüls
  2. Wolfgang Jacobsen:  Ophüls (actually Oppenheimer; in exile: Ophuls, since 1941 Opuls), Max. In: Neue Deutsche Biographie (NDB). Volume 19, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1999, ISBN 3-428-00200-8 , pp. 548 f. ( Digitized version ).
  3. according to other sources: Sulzbachstr. 12; see disc