To be or not to be (1983)

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German title To be or not to be
Original title To be or not to be
Country of production United States
original language English
Publishing year 1983
length 108 minutes
Age rating FSK 12
Director Alan Johnson
script Ronny Graham ,
Thomas Meehan
production Mel Brooks
music John Morris
camera Gerald Hirschfeld
cut Alan balm

To be or not to be is a remake of the classic of the same name from 1942. The satirical film is set in Warsaw before and during the Second World War .


Poland, summer 1939, on the eve of the German invasion of Poland . The married couple Frederick and Anna Bronski are the stars of the “Bronski Theater” in Warsaw, but their marriage is in crisis because of their job, as Anna receives far more open recognition than Frederick. Then Frederick Bronski has to cancel his new revue, in which he gives a parody of Hitler, under pressure from the Polish Foreign Ministry; instead he gives "Highlights from Hamlet". The young Polish army pilot Andre Sobinski raves about Anna and arranges to meet her backstage, using Hamlet's monologue to be or not to be as a keyword. Bronski notices these secret meetings but does not see their reason.

When the Germans invade Poland a few days later, the Bronski Theater was also affected by the Nazi dictatorship and, due to its influence, had to delete more and more of its best plays from the program. Frederick and Anna Bronski are evicted from their villa, which is being converted into the headquarters of the Gestapo , and have to share a small apartment with Anna's cloakroom attendant Sascha.

In England, on the other hand, the Polish resistance continues, both militarily and morally, with the well-known Professor Siletski representing the latter. In reality, however, Siletski is a high-ranking German agent who comes to Warsaw with a list of names to destroy the Polish resistance. Andre, who escaped from Poland, returns to his occupied homeland on behalf of the Royal Air Force and MI5 to intercept Siletski and asks Anna for help. The entire ensemble of the Bronski Theater tries to trick the Nazis around Gestapo chief Erhardt with a game of confusion and to snatch the list from the traitor. The biggest role in this action falls to Frederick Bronski, who with the help of his disguises and his acting skills, mixed with a portion of desperation and the constant threat of exposure, has to cheat both Siletski (who died in the matter) and Erhardt at the same time his marriage to Anna is cemented again.

When Adolf Hitler comes to Warsaw, the Bronski Theater is supposed to give the assembled Nazi celebrities an extra performance. Now the troupe must muster all their acting skills to organize the escape to England. Although some serious obstacles arise (such as the fact that the theater's Jewish cloakroom attendant hid all of their acquaintance in the theater building), in the end they all manage to escape. As a reward, the Bronski troupe are given permission to play in England, and Andre has put back his passion for Anna - but there is another visitor who leaves the hall in the midst of being or not ...


Stefanie Dieckmann on jump cut : “An unpleasant film, and that is still cautiously phrased. The relationship that Mel Brooks' being or not being has to the famous 1942 model is neither one of imitation nor one of outperformance, but a mixture of both: in some moments a slavish copy, in others (most) endeavored, funnier, more exciting, in a word: to be better than the original, which takes a total of 106 minutes and is not a single long entertaining one. "

The Lexicon of International Films, on the other hand, ruled that it was a remake, "which may degenerate into slapstick in places, but overall does justice to the tragicomic material."

Reclam's film guide judges: Despite "not always tasteful effects ... again a comedy was created that is acceptable to joke with horror." The film seems "more like an homage to Lubitsch than a typical Brooks comedy."

Hellmuth Karasek wrote in Der Spiegel that Brooks could not "completely save the refined network of allusions, running gags, repetitions and increases in coarseness [...]." But how the aging Mel Brooks and his, to put it politely: fully blossomed Frau Anne turn the fling comedy into a coarse touching slapstick, that is also hilarious for the viewer who longs for the refined perfume of the original. "


  • The music video Hitler Rap appeared on the soundtrack album, but not in the film itself . It reached 12th place in the US singles chart in February 1984. The song did not appear as a maxi single in Germany - in contrast to other European countries such as the Netherlands, France or Spain - but only on a 7 ".
  • Charles Durning was nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in 1984 for his portrayal of Gruppenführer Ehrhardt .

Web links

Individual evidence

  2. ↑ To be or not to be. In: Lexicon of International Films . Film service , accessed March 2, 2017 .Template: LdiF / Maintenance / Access used 
  3. Dieter Krusche: Reclam's film guide / collaborators: Jürgen Labenski and Josef Nagel. - 13., rework. Edition - Philipp Reclam, Stuttgart 2008, ISBN 978-3-15-010676-1 , p. 715.
  4. Hellmuth Karasek: Pschzstwst wzjdjst , Der Spiegel 10/1984.