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Calm Prevails Over the Country (Es herrscht Ruhe im Land)

The provincial capital of an unidentified South American country. A typewriter mechanic stops at a small hotel run by an old man. He has come to visit his daughter in the nearby prison. A group of young people who recently arrived at the town's airport are just being taken to the prison. Their transport is shrouded in greatest secrecy, but the news quickly leaks out. The young doctor Cecilia and a few friends try to persuade the governor to agree to a medical examination of the prisoners, for they assume that the prisoners were tortured before being charged. However, the governor refuses their request in view of the unstable political situation.

The committee which is then set up collects donations of clothing and food for the prisoners and also visits them regularly. A weapon is smuggled into the prison during a performance in the prison yard. The guards are overpowered, but only a few of the prisoners manage to escape. The others remain behind and demand a medical examination to reveal signs of torture as well as their transfer to another prison not run by the military in return for the release of the guards they hold hostage. The report on the hostages is interrupted by representatives of the army encircling the prison yard. The head of the government imposes a state of emergency and orders the army to take appropriate measures to restore order in the country.

Fear and unrest spread throughout the country following the wave of arrests and the disappearance of members of the opposition. The prisoners holding the guards hostage are shot by snipers, officially while trying to escape, and the funeral procession for one of the victims is dispersed by force. Mass arrests follow and the economy suffers a severe slump. One after another, the hotel's residents are arrested and taken away to a huge football stadium. The old grandfather is the only one to remain behind in the hotel. He packs food and clothes and sets off to the stadium where he insults the guards outside the gate until they arrest him and lead him inside the stadium.


Peter Lilienthal was born in 1929 in Berlin. His family emigrated to Uruguay in 1939. In 1956, he received a scholarship to the Hochschule der Kuenste (HDK) in Berlin and returned to Germany. Between 1959 and 1964 he worked at the television broadcaster SWR, first as an assistant and later as a director. In 1967/68 he was a lecturer at the German Film & Television Academy (dffb) in Berlin, and was one of the co-founders of the German distributor Filmverlag der Autoren. Since 1985, he has been director of the section Film & Media Art at the Academy of the Arts in Berlin. A selection of his films includes: In Handumdrehen verdient (1959), Malatesta (1970), Dear Mr. Wonderful, The Silence of the Poet (Das Schweigen des Dichters, 1987), The Cyclist of San Cristóbal (Der Rahfahrer von San Christobal, 1988), In the Face of the Woods (1995), and The Long Road to Disobedience (Der lange Weg zum Ungehorsam, 2007), among others.
Genre Drama
Category Feature
Year of Production 1975
Director Peter Lilienthal
Screenplay Peter Lilienthal, Antonio Skarmeta
Cinematography Robby Müller, Abel Alboim
Susi Jaeger
Angel Perra
Cast Charles Vanel, Mario Pardo, Eduardo Duran, Zita Duarte, Henriqueta Maya
Production Company FFAT/Munich, in co-production with ZDF, ORF/Vienna
Length 103 min
Format 16 mm, color
Original Version
 German
Subtitled Versions English, French, Spanish, Italian
Awards German Film Award 1976