The Tinder Box

(1958, East Germany) color 78 minutes
DEFA / Progress Film-Verleih
Story: Hans Christian Andersen
Screenplay: Siegfried Hartmann, Anneliese Kocialek, Fred Rodrian
Music: Siegfried Bethmann
Cinematography: Erich Gusko
Special Effects: Ernst Kunstmann, Vera Kunstmann
Sets: Hans Poppe
“Ausfuhrung”: Franz Furst
Costume Design: Marianne Schmidt
Make-Up: Bernhard Kalisch, Margarethe Walther
Sound: Gerhard Wieck
Editing: Hildegard Conrad
Assistant Director: Heinz Mentel
Assistant Camera: Willy Flohr
“Aufnahme-Leitung”: Otto Ziesenitz
Produced by: Anni von Zieten
Directed by: Siegfried Hartmann

With: Rolf Ludwig (the Soldier), Heinz Schubert (the Miser), Rolf Defrank (the Vain Man), Hannes Fischer (the Fat Man), Hans Fiebrandt (the King), Anna-Maria Besendahl (the Queen), Senta Bonacker (the Lady-in-waiting), Bella Waldritter (the Witch), Fritz Schlegel (the Innkeeper), Barbara Mehlan (the Princess), Maria Wendt (the Old Woman), Hans (the Young Boy), Steffie Spira, Johannes Maus, Jochen Diestelmann, Kay Sikor, W.O. Eckhardt, Paul Bottcher, Gunter Ballier, Hans Schaffer, Andere

English-Language Version:
(1969) Childhood Productions (January release)
National Screen Service #68-325


THE TINDER BOX is a delightful cinema fairy tale, very much in keeping with the spirit of Hans Christian Andersen, and very much a companion piece to director Siegfried Hartmann’s earlier effort, THE GOLDEN GOOSE. In each, a good-hearted man wins friends and helps a community in turmoil with the help of magically-procured gold. In each, the hero manages to woo and rescue a compromised Princess. IN each, magical animals help our hero in his quest. In addition, the depiction of a typical fairy-tale village, with its King’s court, tradesmen, and various other citizens is evoked quite nicely in each.

Most exciting in THE TINDER BOX are the sequences involving the giant, magical canines, a Dachshund, a Terrier and a Boxer, all with glowing eyes and good hearts, each of which helps our hero countless times. Also notable is an old Witch, whose machinations cause our hero his travails, but also oddly his eventual triumph.

Also fun are the many scenes with the Soldier and his newly-found friends, The Fops. These three pretentious buffoons represent everything that was wrong with society at the time (and today!), lazy good-for-nothings living on their fathers’ income and adding nothing constructive to society, yet pretending to be an essential part thereof.


Leave a Reply