Joseph Vilsmaier

Joseph Vilsmaier

Additional Names: Sepp Vilsmaier (Weiterer Name)
Darsteller, Regie, Drehbuch, Kamera, Produzent
*24.01.1939 München

Biography

Joseph Vilsmaier, born January 24, 1939, in Munich, attended a Franciscan boarding school near Augsburg for five years and then went through an apprenticeship at Arnold & Richter (ARRI) in the department of camera techniques, in the film laboratory, and in film studio operations from 1953 to 1961. At the same time, Vilsmaier studied music with a major in piano at Munich’s academy of music and played in a jazz band.

Vilsmaier gained access to the film industry after an offer by Bavaria Film to work for the first time as the cinematographer – together with Gernot Roll – for the three-part TV movie "Wie eine Träne im Ozean". From 1972 on, he worked independently and became a freelance cinematographer in 1978. Besides numerous TV movies and TV series, Vilsmaier also filmed several feature films for the movie screen as well as commercials, image films, and documentary films. Some of his relatives then turned his attention to Anna Wimschneider’s novel "Herbstmilch" ("Autumn Milk"), the memories of a farmer’s wife from Rottal. Vilsmaier bought the movie rights and not only filmed the movie version of the same name but also directed his first feature film. His wife Dana Vávrová played the leading role. With nearly 2.5 million viewers, the film became a box office hit, while its director and actors won numerous film awards for their contributions.

His next film, the rubble drama "Rama dama" (Bavarian vernacular for "we do clean up"), became a quasi-sequel to "Herbstmilch" and again starred Dana Vávrovrá and Werner Stocker as lovers. But this time, Vilsmaier derived the film’s story from his own original idea.

With his film "Stalingrad", Vilsmaier once more dabbled at being a detailed chronicler of German lives and times. With a tremendous effort in material and in technology, Vilsmaier directed the "to date largest tank battle in film history" as the film distributor put it in its press campaign. The film opened in cinemas at the date of the 50th anniversary of the German defeat. The drama about the fate of the German soldiers in Stalingrad mobilized 1.3 million viewers.

Subsequently, Vilsmaier again took to movie versions of famous novels. After "Charlie & Louise – Das doppelte Lottchen", a modernized version of Erich Kästner’s children’s book classic, he made a movie version of Robert Schneider’s cumbersome best-selling novel "Schlafes Bruder" ("Brother of Sleep") about the musical boy wonder and outcast Elias. For the film, Vilsmaier build up a whole mountain village. But this Cinemascope film that cost 17 million Marks bombed at the box office as did the more humble film version of Siegfried Sommer’s debut novel "Und keiner weint mir nach" ("And Nobody Weeps For Me") about six friends who live in an apartment building in Munich.

But his film "Comedian Harmonists" that again was situated during the time of the Weimar Republic drew 2.8 million viewers. Thus, it became Vilsmaier’s greatest triumph and turned out to be the most successful German film of the movie season 1988. Vilsmaier illustrated the rise and fall of the singing group in the form of a lavishly designed entertainment film.

Vilsmaier then received slating reviews for his film "Marlene" about the life of the German film star during several stages of her life between 1929 and 1945. With his film "Leo und Claire" ("Leo and Claire"), Vilsmaier again turned to a story situated in the time of Nazi Germany. He then finished the film version of Adalbert Stifter’s story "Bergkristall" ("Rock Crystal") that intertwined past and present in the setting of the winterly Alps mountains. In 2000, the Vilsmaiers published the children’s book "Der Bär ist los" ("Bear on the Run") and turned it into a movie version as a family project, directed by Vávrová, produced by Vilsmaier, and starring their daughter Janina Vilsmaier in the leading role.

Besides the TV comedy "Das Weihnachts-Ekel" (2006), Vilsmaier directed three movies during the following years that all dealt with different aspects of the Third Reich and World War II: "Leo und Claire" ("Leo and Claire", 2001) tells the true story of a Jew who is sentenced to death because of the racial policy of Nazi Germany. "Der letzte Zug" ("The Last Train", 2006) deals with the inhuman deportation of a group of Jews in the year 1943. "Der letzte Zug" won the Special Award at the 2007 Bavarian Film Awards. With the two-part TV movie "Die Gustloff" ("Ship of no Return", 2008), Vilsmaier tried to reconstruct the circumstances that lead to the tragic torpedoing of the German refugee ship "Wilhelm Gustloff" by the Soviet army in 1945.

With his more comedy-like film "Die Geschichte vom Brandner Kaspar", Vilsmaier brought one of the most famous Bavarian folk stories to the movie screen in 2008. His next project was the mountaineer drama "Nanga Parbat", that opened January 2010.

At Bayerischer Filmpreis 2010 Vilsmaier received an Honorary Award for his acievements as director, producer and cinematographer.

After directing the two-part TV thriller "Russisch Roulette" (2012), he helmed the TV adaptation of the play "Der Meineidbauer" (2012). Vilsmaier then paid homage to his native Bavaria with the scenic documentary "Bavaria - Traumreise durch Bayern" (2012).

Filmography

2015/2016 Marie Curie
Co-Producer
 
2015-2017 Bayern sagenhaft
Director, Director of photography
 
2011/2012 Bavaria - Traumreise durch Bayern
Voice, Director, Screenplay, Director of photography, Producer
 
2011/2012 Russisch Roulette
Director, Director of photography
 
2009/2010 Nanga Parbat
Director, Director of photography, Producer
 
2008 Heimat - Deine Filme
Participation
 
2008 Die Geschichte vom Brandner Kaspar
Director, Director of photography, Producer
 
2007/2008 Die Gustloff
Director
 
2005/2006 Das Weihnachts-Ekel
Director, Director of photography
 
2005/2006 Der letzte Zug
Director, Director of photography, Co-Producer
 
2004 Bergkristall
Director, Director of photography, Co-Producer
 
2003/2004 Pura Vida Ibiza
Co-Producer
 
2003 Den Frieden in der Hand. Das Holzkirchner Wallfahrtsgelübde
Director
 
2000/2001 Leo und Claire
Director, Screenplay, Director of photography, Producer
 
1999/2000 Der Bär ist los!
Producer, Executive producer
 
1999/2000 Marlene
Director, Director of photography, Producer, Executive producer
 
1998/1999 Straight Shooter
Producer
 
1997 Comedian Harmonists
Director, Director of photography, Executive producer
 
1996/1997 Hunger - Sehnsucht nach Liebe
Producer
 
1996 Hollywood, Germany - Die amerikanische Herausforderung
Participation
 
1995/1996 Und keiner weint mir nach
Director, Director of photography, Producer
 
1995 Wia die Zeit vergeht
Director, Story, Director of photography, Producer
 
1994/1995 Schlafes Bruder
Director, Co-author, Director of photography, Producer
 
1993/1994 Charlie & Louise - Das doppelte Lottchen
Director, Director of photography, Producer
 
1993/1994 Der Prinz von Homburg
Director of photography
 
1991/1992 Stalingrad
Director, Co-author, Director of photography, Executive producer
 
1990 Rama dama
Director, Screenplay, Director of photography, Producer
 
1988/1989 Jakob und Adele. 10. Kurerlebnisse
Director of photography
 
1988 Rosinenbomber
Director of photography
 
1988 Herbstmilch
Director, Director of photography, Producer
 
1987/1988 Didi - Der Experte
Director of photography
 
1986 Didi auf vollen Touren
Director of photography
 
1984/1985 Doppelspiel
Director of photography
 
1984 Ambrose Temple
Director of photography
 
1984 Geld oder Leben
Director of photography
 
1983 Die goldenen Schuhe
Director of photography
 
1983 Rote Erde
Director of photography
 
1983 Sag nein - Künstler für den Frieden
Director of photography
 
1982 Ein Stück Himmel
Director of photography
 
1981/1982 Das Mädchen auf der Treppe
Director of photography
 
1980/1981 Schwarze Fracht
Director of photography
 
1980 Schönes Wochenende
Director of photography
 
1980 Tommys Trip
Director of photography
 
1980 Fliegender Start
Director of photography
 
1980 Ganoven unter sich
Director of photography
 
1980 Nur eine kleine Verwechslung
Director of photography
 
1980 Vollgas
Director of photography
 
1979 Fallstudien
Director of photography
 
1979 Schweigegeld
Director of photography
 
1979 ... es ist die Liebe
Director of photography
 
1978 Der harte Handel
Director of photography
 
1978 Lockruf
Director of photography
 
1978 Rechnung mit einer Unbekannten
Director of photography
 
1977/1978 Tagebuch des Verführers
Director of photography
 
1977 Drei Schlingen
Director of photography
 
1976/1977 Krock & Co
Director, Director of photography
 
1976 Abendstern
Director of photography
 
1975/1976 Fortuna III
Director of photography
 
1974 Das blaue Palais
Director of photography
 
1973/1974 Acht Jahre später
Director of photography
 
1971-1973 Die merkwürdige Lebensgeschichte des Friedrich Freiherrn von der Trenck
Director of photography
 
1967/1968 Träume von Attenham
Director of photography
 
1967/1968 Jet-Generation
Assistant camera
 

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