To Be Or Not To Be

  • Ernst Lubitsch
  • US
  • 1942
  • 99 Min

Biting comedy: Ernst Lubitsch's film about a troupe of actors in Warsaw in 1939 who not only dupe the Nazis with their changing roles and theatrical productions, both on and off the stage, but also manage to escape to Scotland was in 1942, immediately after its release, the source of much controversy.

At the time, the humour struck critics as inappropriate, for some even trivializing. Today however the film numbers amongst Ernst Lubitsch's best-known comedies and shows that, at least on screen, Hitler can be mocked and the balance of power reversed in such a way that the underdogs triumph.

Adriana Altaras on TO BE OR NOT TO BE: "If there is one film that can be everything, is everything, it is "To Be Or Not To Be" by Erst Lubitsch. So endlessly funny, so truly prescient and sad, that makes this film a masterpiece that knows no expiration date."

19.6. 17.00 Filmmuseum, followed by a discussion with Adriana Altaras, actress
19.6. 21.00 Delphi Lux, followed by a discussion with Adriana Altaras, actress


original title Sein oder Nichtsein

international title To Be Or Not To Be

german title Sein oder Nichtsein


  • director Ernst Lubitsch

country/countries US

year 1942

duration 99 Min

Ernst Lubitsch

BIO Ernst Lubitsch (born January 29, 1892 in Berlin) was a German film director and actor of US citizenship. After celebrating his first successes as a director in Germany, he moved to Hollywood in the 1920s. There he made a name for himself as a director of cultivated and elegant “salon comedies” – film critics later described their special charm as the Lubitsch Touch. Shortly before his death, Lubitsch received an honorary Oscar for his life's work.