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Home > Screenings > LOOKSfilm > Age Of Iron - To Love And Die In The Thirty Years' War

Director: Philippe Bérenger, Henrike Sandner

Producer: Nestan Behrens, Andreas Fauser

Executive Producer: Gunnar Dedio, Carine Leblanc, Laurent Duret

Writer: Yury Winterberg

Cast: Jan Hasenfuss, Sam Louwyck, Rosa Burzstein, Charlie Nelson, Pierre Aussedat, Anna König, Marlene Tanczik

Genres: Documentary, Drama


“Age of Iron” is how the survivors called the Thirty Years War, which raged in Europe from 1618 to 1648. For the people at the time, the war was a huge catastrophic event. It was a war about religion and about power in Europe. What began as a regional conflict between Bohemian rebels and the Habsburg emperor gradually became a conflagration of huge proportions. Millions of people lost their lives. Entire regions were depopulated by destruction, disease and famine. But by the end of this war, the idea of a new Europe had emerged.

In the 17th century, a generation of painters and illustrators developed the first type of visual mass medium - genre art, the pictorial representation of scenes and events from everyday life. The artists visualized the world they lived in with all its facets: markets, domestic settings, interiors, parties, inns, street scenes, and many more. This visual memory of the 17th century forms the ‘archive footage’ in our series. Combined with vivid drama and contributions from international experts, the series builds a bridge between “now” and “then” enabling viewers to experience what it was like to live through the Thirty Years’ War.

1: CHAOS (1618 – 1621)
After the Defenestration of Prague in 1618, the young elector Frederick V of the Palatinate and his wife Elisabeth Stuart are crowned King and Queen of Bohemia – an affront to the Habsburg emperor. More and more European powers are drawn into the conflict, and the inexperienced royal couple quickly lose control of events.

2: GOD (1626-1629)
The Catholic armies are attacked by an immense empire from the north: Denmark. At the same time, the Catholic Spanish Netherlands are fighting the separatist Dutch Protestants. Peter Paul Rubens, now a spy for Isabella of Spain, travels to Paris to meet with Father Joseph, Cardinal Richelieu's right hand. France is on the brink of war with England. In La Rochelle, events are coming to a head.

3: POWER (1630-1632)
Ferdinand II, the Holy Roman Emperor intends to re-catholicise numerous possessions - by consent or by force. Peter Hagendorf, fighting in the Imperial army, is injured during the Sack of Magdeburg. Anna von Haugwitz escapes the massacre of Protestant Calbe; her entire family is wiped out. Father Joseph takes part in the Diet of Regensburg where the emperor’s rise to power is put to an end.

4: DEVASTATION (1631-1634)
Sweden’s intervention fundamentally changes the situation. King Gustavus Adolphus is more than a match for the Imperial forces led by General Wallenstein. City by city, territory is snatched from the emperor. Henrik Holck is now fighting on Wallenstein's side in Lützen. In a time of famine and pestilence, tavern owner Barbara Xeller profits from the arrival of the Lutheran Swedish troops in Biberach.

5: REVENGE (1635-1640)
The Holy Roman Empire lies in ruins. Thousands of Scottish, Italian, English, and Swiss mercenaries come to pick over the spoils. Father Joseph and Cardinal Richelieu recruit 40,000 new soldiers for France, seemingly out of nowhere. Near Magdeburg, Anna von Haugwitz meets Swedish commander Carl Gustaf Wrangel; from then on, she follows him from camp to camp.

6: PEACE (1646-1649)
The tide of the war changes constantly. In 1643, the French defeat the Spanish. In the same year, an entire French army is taken prisoner. The desire for peace is growing. At the end of the war, Peter Hagendorf has journeyed more than 20,000 km throughout all of Europe and lost two wives and eight of his nine children. Barbara Xeller is charged with witchcraft, tortured, but finally acquitted – a first! Anna and Carl Gustaf Wrangel send their plundered loot back to Skokloster, Sweden. The war has made them very wealthy.

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