Cinema X Talks to Oswalt Kolle
This interview was first published in Cinema X vol.1 no9 circa 1968. It is reproduced here as published.
THE WONDER OF LOVE – Interview
An Area-Winston production for S.F. Film Distribution release
Camera: Werner Lenz
Music: Johannes Rediske
Producer: Karin Wecker-Jacobsen
Director: F.J. Gottlieb
Executive Producer: Oswalt Kolle
Technical consultants: Prof. Dr. Hans Giese, Institute of Sexology, Hamburg University; Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Hochheimer, Institute of Pedagogic Psychology
Pauline: Biggie Freyer
Thomas: Wilfried Gossler
Claudia: Katarina Haertei
Martin: Regis Vallee
Oswalt Kolle is a good-looking German journalist. With a good-looking bank account. He is, at last count, a multi-millionaire. At 39. Because of… sex! About a year ago, Kolle shifted his newspaper, magazine and book love-life guidance to the cinema. He joined the non-stop sex-eduation genre of films currently being ground out in Germany with all the speed, repetition and uniformity of the Volkswagen.
Such films have long been a tradition in the Teuton cinema. Going right back, for example, to a feature-length look at venereal disease called LET THERE BE LIGHT soon after the 14-18 holocaust. Apparently, it is time for more light to be shed in the bedroom. And handsome Kolle — married with three children; one daughter and two sons — is succeeding where HELGA trod so recently and, to mix metaphors, as hamfistedly. We have already previewed Kolle’s THE WONDER OF LOVE colour film; the inevitable big-budget sequel born out of the triumphant success of this, his first entry into the cinema. Following the first public unveiling of his screen debut in London, Oswalt Kolle discussed certain aspects of his work with us.
Cinema X: What do your films say that HELGA and the others have not already discussed — indeed rammed down our throats like so much statistical propaganda?
Kolle: My films derive from a wholly different standpoint from HELGA and the other productions. They are purely and simply films of sex-education; strictly biological works. I deal with love more than sex. Therefore I look upon my works as being sociological.
Cinema X: The end result seems a hairsbreadth’s difference. Your main message, your moral if you like, is not exactly new and is concerned with both sex and love.
Kolle: Yes, to say that tenderness is essential in love and in love-making may not be new. But I do not cloud this message with statistics and diagrams of the human body and all its organs. I deal with people, with human problems based on the various letters I receive in reply to my books and articles. And I feel my films are making this message more readily understood. By sheer example.
Cinema X: Have you proof of such success?
Kolle: In my letters from the public; I get about 500 a week. They come from all sorts of people. Couples both young and old. Single people too. They all voice their sympathy with my work, their unqualified approval of my articles and now my films — and many, many, write to say how much they have learned, and by learning changed their love-lives… Furthermore, I have seen couples leaving my films and saying to each other: « We should try and behave like that… ». That alone, for me, is reason enough to make these films.
Cinema X: And to make so much money out of them? Obviously education in sex and love is a boon to mankind, but the strictly commercial aspects of these films — yours in particular — the use of such attractive players and so on — surely some couples somewhere with problems of this nature are fat, old, ugly; and the way in which such huge profitable returns are brought in from the initial promise of solving other people’s miseries… well it seems abhorrent to us.
Kolle: I understand your feelings. But, really, you cannot blame me for making money… That is the world today, believe me. If these films — mine or anyone else’s — were shown completely free of charge to the general public, do you think they would come? Of course not! That is not my fault. That is not theirs. That is simply how the world reacts these days. Anything free is immediately distrusted. However, please let me add, that of course, we do make all possible arrangements in all countries for my films to be shown freely to schools, youth groups and so on — as and when requested by leaders.
Cinema X: How did you start in this sphere of journalism?
Kolle: My father is a Professor of Psychiatry in Munich. Therefore I have always taken a keen interest in all areas of psychology, medicine and sexual behaviour. I also believe in passing on to the public the results of such scientific research. Naturally, newspapers and magazines were the best medium for such publicity. Hence my articles. Then three books. Then Area Productions asked to film my latest, indeed my most successful survey, THE WONDER OF LOVE… under my general supervision.
Cinema X: What was the attitude of the censor in Europe?
Kolle: Mixed: To say the least… At home, the West German Film Censorship Board have a good reputation for passing sexually explicit features. Notable examples being the famous Swedish films of recent years: Bergman’s The Silence and Sjoman’s I AM CURIOUS – YELLOW. Such deliberations as proved necessary, I gathered, did not take very long. But they spent nine full hours deciding the fate of my first film! Finally they passed it. Completely uncut. But for over 18-years-olds.
France and Italy, however, although allowing HELGA and its sequel to be screened, banned my film out of hand. The Dutch, being as free as the Scandinavians these days, classified it as being « especially outstanding » — and excerpts were shown on TV, as in Germany. The Swiss seemed to have different rules and therefore differing decisions in various regions.
Cinema X: And Britain?
Kolle: We had a slight fight here. No, rather discussions, with your Censor before it was passed with a few slight amendments.
Cinema X: What of the film’s success?
Kolle: Greater than I ever anticipated. In Germany alone no fewer than five million people saw that first film inside four months! Now it has been seen in 19 countries.
Cinema X: Hence the sequel. And, no doubt, more films to come?
Kolle: Definitely. I am currently engaged on two more productions now. In Rome. They are to be called: YOUR WIFE, THE UNKNOWN and BY EXAMPLE: ADULTERY. As before. I tell what I have to tell. Consequently ail the other sex-education films are now following me…
Cinema X: Meanwhile your books sell better than ever, I suppose.
Kolle: Yes indeed. And we have just started a new departure — LP discs featuring selections from the books. The film medium is still the most powerful force in this area of guidance, I think.
Cinema X: Would you now outline THE WONDER OF LOVE (No. 1) for
Kolle: Certainly. My subject is sexuality in marriage. The film was made in collaboration with several well known German doctors — two of whom take part in a short discussion with me at the beginning of the feature. We deal with typical sexual problems in a very young marriage and another which is seven years old. In this way we also delve into the background of our society in which sexuality is taboo and we suggest methods of solving marital crises caused by such sexual maladjustments.
In the case of the young couple, the wife, Pauline, finally admits to her husband, Thomas, that his love-making arouses no satisfaction for her. Like any man, I suppose, Thomas is shocked, very angry at this declaration. Gradually, however, they find the courage to discuss their problem together, searching for a way to help one another in their sexual unity. Once worries are brought out into the open like this, two people can begin to increase the joy of their marital relationship. Claudia and Martin are slightly older; married for seven years with two children. Their problem is, perhaps, the oldest of all: familiarity breeding something akin to contempt… He is continually busy, carving a career for himself and thereby a future for his family. But forgetting his wife sexually. She, therefore is left alone with no-one to answer her longings and her desires until one day out of sheer frustration she almost gives herself to another man. This shocks Claudia so much that she, too, finally brings matters into the open. Martin realises how close he has come to killing his marriage… and takes time for once to prove that he can still be a passionate and tender lover.