The Mysteries of a Hairdresser’s Shop describes the absurd goings-on of a by no means ordinary hair salon, where men with great beards wait in vain for a shave while the barber takes a nap.
One customer, wanting a pimple removed from his chin, is treated with a hammer and chisel. The head of a distinguished professor is shaven bald. Panic stricken, he grabs for his hat, getting into a fight with another guest. The quarrel ends in a sword fight, but while sharpening their weapons, the barber inadvertently cuts off the professor’s head. So that the sword fight may go on, the man’s head is stuck back on. The professor is eventually victorious, but only thanks to the energetic support of the barber, who robs his opponent’s head with a fishing hook.
The background and realization of The Mysteries of a Hairdresser’s Shop are also something of a mystery in film history. While Erich Engel, Karl Valentin and Bertolt Brecht certainly helped to form and create the scene for the film’s development, the realization was more so due to the spontaneous, cooperative efforts of the entire “team”. Staged in the storage loft of a private house in Munich, legend has it that the real motive for the film gag was to create an acting role for the brother of the film’s unknown patron. —German Film Archive
Brecht, Bertolt (bĕr’tôlt brĕkht), 1898-1956, German dramatist and poet, b. Eugen Berthold Friedrich Brecht. His brilliant wit, his outspoken Marxism, and his revolutionary experiments in the theater have made Brecht a vital and controversial force in modern drama. His early plays, such as Baal (1919) and Drums in the Night (1922), are examples of nihilistic expressionism and caused riots at their openings, bringing Brecht instant notoriety. In Mann ist Mann [man is man] (1926), he began to develop his so-called epic theater, in which narrative, montage, self-contained scenes, and rational argument were used to create a shock of realization in the spectator. In order to give the audience a more objective perspective on the action, Brecht promoted a style of acting and staging that created a distancing effect. Instead of identifying with their roles, actors were instructed merely to demonstrate the actions of the characters they portrayed. Sets and lighting were designed to prevent the… read more