The Peasant's War

[original title:  Bauernkrieg]

Switzerland 1998. 35mm, Dolby SR + 16mm, colour, 84 min.

Bauernkrieg Bauernkrieg Bauernkrieg affiche

After ?Sennen-Ballade? (Alpine Ballade), ?Bauernkrieg? (The Peasants? War) is the second part of a trilogy on the subject of farming in which an attempt is made to look at the existence of farmers at the end of the 20th century.

The central questions are identity, survival and the future of farming. Each of these three aspects is explored in a separate film. ?The Peasants? War? looks into the question of the survival of agriculture, in a period of transition from a state-controlled, planned economy to a free market economy.This is a time in which world trade is being forcibly and dramatically liberalised. Most of today?s farmers are putting their faith in advanced technology and selective breeding techniques as the way to survive in the new market situation. Unable to stay the course, many just give up.

Une ?uvre qui touche (Tribune de Genève)

Un film d'une grande force émotionnelle (Zoom)

DirectorErich Langjahr
ScriptErich Langjahr
WithBauern: Familie Steffen-Rey, Perlen LU; Familie Nyffeler-Albiez, Gut-Hof in Turgi AG; Familie Schmidli-Bühlmann, Gürberhof in Emmen LU; Familie Abt-Wicki, Steghof in Rottenschwil AG
Gantrufer: Hans und Bruno Furrer
Rainer Saner und Armin Wirth: Arbeitsgem. für Embryotransfer AET Mülligen AG
Franz-Joseph Schawalder: Besamungsstation (Künstliche Besamung) Bütschwil SG
Werner Käufeler und Peter Hug: TMF, Tiermehlfabrik (Tierkörperverwertung) Bazenheid SG
Teilnehmer an der 2. Schweizerischen Brown Swiss Elite - Auktion Sargans SG, am 104. Stierenmarkt Zug ZG, an der Bauerndemonstration auf dem Europaplatz in Luzern am 9.1.1992, an der Bauerndemonstration vor dem Bundesplatz in Bern am 23.10.1996. Ansprachen in Luzern: Franz Jung (Altnationalrat, Eschenbach LU), Ueli Blatter (Nationalrat, Engelberg OW), Ferdinand Zumbühl (Innerschweizer Bauernlandammann, Wolfenschiessen NW)
PhotographyErich Langjahr
SoundSilvia Haselbeck
EditingErich Langjahr
MusicMani Planzer; Perkussion: Fritz Hauser
CollaboratorsKamera- und Schnittassistenz: Silvia Haselbeck
Mischung: Dieter Lengacher
Grafik: Niklaus Troxler
Duration84 min.
Format35mm, Dolby SR + 16mm
Versions35mm, 84 Min., Farbe, Lichtton Dolby SR, 1: 1.66, Schweizerdeutsch
deutsch/französisch, deutsch/italienisch, deutsch/englisch, spanisch/englisch
16mm, 84 Min., Farbe, Magnetton, Schweizerdeutsch
Sales DVD/VideoDVD   [order]
FestivalsSolothurn, Nyon, Fribourg, Lausanne, Leipzig (DE), München (DE), Berlin (DE), Würzburg (DE) Freistadt (AT), New York (US), Barcelona (ES), Mulhouse (FR), Tarascon (FR), Bozen (IT), Oullins (FR), Mar de Plata (Argentinien), Reggio di Calabria (IT), Vännäs Hela Sveriges Film Festival (S), San Francisco, Goethe Institut, September 2005
Pro Helvetia: Spanien: Valencia, Madrid, Gran Canaria, Santiago de Compostela, Barcelona, Zaragoza; Deutschland: Essen, Hannover.
Festivals, AwardsQualitätsprämie des Eidg. Departements des Innern
Sonderpreis des Deutschen Bundesumweltministeriums
Prix du Jury ?couménique anlässlich des 41. Int. Leipziger Dokumentarfilm-Festivals 1998
Nominiert Schweizer Filmpreis 1999 "Bester Dokumentarfilm"
ScreensSchweiz: In über 60 Kinos.
Deutschland: Pforzheim, Stuttgart, Villingen, Freiburg, Berlin-Alpirsbach, Berlin, Schorndorf, Bremen, Weiterstadt, Leipzig, Wuppertal, Köln, Halle, Lehrte, Witzenhausen, Nürnberg, Hamburg, Verden, Regensburg, Immenstadt, Mannheim, Hannover, Ochsenfurt, Dortmund, Köln, Erlenbach, Lich, Herdecke, Potsdam.
Österreich: Innsbruck, Ried (Innkreis); Bad Leonfeld, Bregenz, Andelsbuch, Dornbirn, Feldkirch.
Frankreich: Mulhouse, Fos-sur-mer, Château-Arnoux, Avignon. St-Marin de Crau, Rambouillet, St-Etienne.
TV broadcastsPlanete, SF DRS, 3sat
Dumont/TortajadaNr. 1067
ProductionLangjahr-Film GmbH, Luegstrasse 13, CH-6037 Root
Tel. +41-41-450 22 52 – Fax +41-41-450 22 51
E-mail: info@langjahr-film.chsend this
World RightsLangjahr-Film GmbH
Distribution Switzerland
and international
Langjahr-Film GmbH, Luegstrasse 13, CH-6037 Root
Tel. +41-41-450 22 52 – Fax +41-41-450 22 51
E-mail: info@langjahr-film.chsend this
Suisa number1002.019

Press review

Une œuvre qui touche (Tribune de Genève)
Un film d'une grande force émotionnelle (Zoom)

From the catalogue of Visions du réel, Nyon

This film is as noisy as Sennen-Ballade was peaceful. Or rather, peasants' war appears all the more agitated and vindictive as Sennen-Ballade was contemplative and serene. This film, the second in the trilogy that Erich Langjahr is devoting to farming life, has a different setting than the first. From alpine pastures, he has now relocated to the plains. The film’s opening and closing shots show farmers demonstrating with cowbells and whistles, speaking out, and carrying out their open air political activities. The farming community of the 90s is on the alert, and the filmmaker records its most pressing problems and most fundamental worries. The narrative highlights various situations and practices which are symptomatic of the evolution and consequent deterioration – this, precisely, is the central issue of the film – of the production methods of a farming community attached, in this case, to livestock farming. Langjahr explores situations ranging from auctions of farming goods which no longer provide their owners with sufficient income to the most efficient methods of reproducing species, from international trade in sperm to industrial slaughter. These situations are presented as archetypes necessary for the progression of his thoughts.

Langjahr’s film is not so much reportage illustrating an issue as it is a narrative that tells an edifying tale. The detailed account of the cows’ artificial insemination, for instance, is based on clear and accessible scientific information. But beyond this we find a metaphysical dimension which in turn suggests a political reading of the practices and positions shown. The bulls are led by a machine which holds them by their nostrils. The route they are forced to take seems absurd, but the peasant’s brief explanation makes it seem strikingly normal. One should not conclude that this is a superficial accusation (“those poor animals”) – the filmmaker reveals, much as an archaeologist might, the profound logic underlying the industrial production of milk and meat. Up until the horribly long scene showing offal being crushed by a powerful machine, which makes sense when one realizes that this endless mass of bloody waste will be made into cattle food. The dizzying circle of recycling, in which animals eat themselves, is complete.

A disturbing film, peasants’ war is an insistent examination synthesizing a critical point of view without ignoring the complexity of psychological and economic realities. It is, in other words, a political, impertinent and invigorating film, shot in Switzerland and of general interest. In a sense, a citizen of a film. 

Jean Perret

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