Ernest Kleinberg
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Ernest Kleinberg (1910-1980) was born in Breslau, Germany (now Wrocław, Poland). He grew up in Vienna, where he became a photographer for American news agencies and Life magazine. In March 1938 he was arrested by the Gestapo for photographing Hitler's march into Vienna. Released six weeks later thanks to pressure from American friends, he escaped to New York where he resumed photography and rescued his entire family from Nazi Austria. In the early 1950s he became a self-taught film producer. He subsequently completed more than 25 documentary movies.


(underlined films may be clicked for YouTube showings)

Adventures of Giorgio, The (1960) This drama was performed by real-life actors, filmed in the spectacular seacoast village of Vernazza in Italy's Cinqueterre and the nearby city of Genoa. Eleven year old Giorgio, full of ambition and dreaming of adventure, runs away from the village school longing to go to sea like his father, and finds his way to the big city and its harbor.  After he starts to wander the streets there, the unexpected occurs.

Arts and Crafts of Southwest Indians (1953) Demonstrates and explains the techniques and natural materials used in Navajo silversmithing and weaving, Hopi basket making and Zuni pottery and jewelry making as part of the traditional Southwest native American way of life.

Belgian Farm (1956) Describes a typical day on a Belgian farm - - trading, harvesting, caring for livestock and pets.

Belgium, Where the Past Meets the Present (1954) Shows the interweaving of traditional culture with many industries as the foundation of modern Belgium. Filled with scenes of local color, including a classic sequence of a farmer and a butcher negotiating the price of a cow in Flemish dialect.

Bruges, a Belgian Town (1955) Documentary on the way of life in Bruges, a Belgian town which has preserved traditions and architecture from the medieval era.

Bruges, une ville belgique--français (1972) A French language teaching film for the third-level French student. Shows the city of Bruges and points out that it still retains most of the traditions which made it great during the Middle Ages. [This was a French translation of the 1955 Bruges.]

California and Gold (1957) Describes the Gold Rush period in California. Shows how the development of the gold country in California and Nevada affected the surrounding country. 

California's Dawn (1964)  This film surveys the history of California  The film was also sold to schools as two separate films, one of which, The Spanish Explorers, interweaves photographic material with paintings, manuscripts and diaries to present a visual picture of the events which occurred on the state's coast during and after the time of Cabrillo and Sir Francis Drake. The other was Missions, Ranchos, and Americans, continuing the story of settlement and development up to the Gold Rush.

California's Dawn: Spanish Explorers, The (1964)

Carcassonne, Fortifications Françaises (1960) Explains that La Cite de Carcassonne in Southern France is considered to be the finest existing example of a medieval fortress. Examines this ancient structure along with the traditions and problems of the surrounding community, as the town tries to take on the new world and still retain the old. Versions were made for both elementary and advanced students. The English version, Carcassonne: a French Fortress, was re-distributed in 1972.

Comestibles Del Desierto (1967) A Spanish language teaching film for the beginning Spanish student. Highlights the special problems of farming in the southern California's Imperial Valley and shows the unique methods used to prepare the land, raise and harvest the crops, and ship them.

Crossroads Europe (1960) Explores the historical, economic and cultural foundations of what would become the European Union more than thirty years later.

Deutsche Marktstadt (1960) A German language film. A close-up portrait of everyday work and family life in the traditional farm town of Nördlingen and the nearby village of Holheim, Bavaria in the late 1950s. Available in English as German Farm Town.

Dream That Changed the Desert, The (1973) Shows how California's Imperial Valley has been changed from a desert into a rich agricultural area. Illustrates how men adapt hostile and barren environments to productive service and concludes with a comprehensive view of modern agriculture.

Edge of Greatness, The (1963) An intense and passionate exploration of what is a university. In 1961-2 Stanford University commissioned Ernest Kleinberg to make a full-length film in support of the university's development campaign. Kleinberg wrote and produced a film discussing the mission of a university, which opens with Stanford's then President asking, "What about us? Do we pass our test?"  After tracing the historical development of universities and of academic freedom, the film portrays the student experience of making choices, discussing issues, learning, reflection, research, travel and recreation. Woven into the film are discussions of sensitive topics including the male-female student ratio, curriculum design, racial discrimination, and in the film's culminating sequence, the conflict between freedom of inquiry versus political power and orthodoxy. Kleinberg raises this theme through an original enactment by Stanford drama students, in full costume, of Galileo defending his work from the Inquisition.  Stanford's administration did not like the finished film. They insisted on removing more than 30 minutes of controversial material and inserting more conventional marketing into the version used to support their campaign. Kleinberg's name was removed from the film, along with Galileo. The YouTube video presents the full producer's version of the film, which includes all the deleted scenes.

Food from the Desert (1967) Tells how dry desert land is prepared for cultivation. Describes leeching of the soil. Stresses the importance of water and of fertilizers for increased production. Shows in detail how carrots are harvested and prepared for market. This is an English version of Comestibles Del Desierto (above).

France: Moments in History (1975) Traces the evolution of France beginning in the pre-Christian era through the French Revolution, while illustrating the people, the places and the atmosphere that make the country unique.

France: The Changing Scene (1975) Presents a view of contemporary life in France and shows that France remains strongly attached to traditions and institutions from the past while at the same time embracing the technological advancements of the future.

Gaon Sathis (Friends of the Village - 1953) Documentary about village life in India, and an attempt by Indian volunteers from the city to bring improvement through a village-level education program. Sponsored by the Ford Foundation.

German Farm Town (1960) A close-up portrait of everyday work and family life in the traditional farm town of Nördlingen and the nearby village of Holheim, Bavaria in the late 1950s.

Germany:  the Road of Return (1974) Traces the development of divided Germany from the end of World War II to the present day, showing implications for the future. Designed to contribute to an understanding of the German people.

Germany Today (1960) Shows the growth of Germany from the destruction of World War II to its present prosperity. Problems of a divided Germany are discussed.

Imperial Valley, The, Pt 1, the Dream That Changed the Desert (1967) Gives an overview of the development of the Imperial Valley and its transformation from desert to food basket. Describes the formation of the Salton Sea. Shows the route of the All-American Canal and points out its importance. Explains how ranchers order water for their crops and how that water is distributed.

Imperial Valley, The, Pt 2, Men, Machines and a Bountiful Harvest (1967) Stresses the importance of scientific cultivation of desert land. Shows how aerial dusting protects crops from insects. Shows transition of desert agriculture from hand labor to machine. Tells the importance of cattle and sheep industries to the Imperial Valley.

Impressions of Lausanne (1960) A day in the life of the beautiful Swiss city of Lausanne. Captures the atmosphere as well as the moods of a traditional European city. Kleinberg lived with his family in Lausanne at the time the film was made.

Indian Ceremonials (1954) Presents the sounds and dances of native American ceremonies, filmed in several festivals. Filled with close ups of the people and landscapes of the Southwest.

Netherlands, The:  Struggle for Land (1969)  A dramatic first-hand look at the development of flood control and land reclamation in twentieth century Holland and the struggle of people to protect their land from natural disaster.  Describes the processes involved in building a dike.

People Without Place (1953) Historical documentary about German refugees from Communism who escaped to war-devastated West Germany before the construction of the Berlin Wall. Through the experiences of one young man, the film shows that the long bureaucratic process of screening and resettlement in the West did not deter the millions of people determined to build new lives in a free country, and thereby to contribute to its reconstruction.

Rhine, The:  Geography, History, and Legend (1972) Traces the history of the Rhine River from the time of Caesar's Roman Rhine fleet to the storming of the bridge at Remagen near the end of World War II. Explains the role of the Rhine in the destiny of the people of its six surrounding nations with a description of the river's geography and references to folklore of the region.

Rhine, The: River of Europe (1972) A look at the history of the Rhine River, its importance in European geography and legend, and its role in commerce and trade today.

Rhine Today, The (1972) Studies the effect which the Rhine River has had on the culture, ethnic development, and political interaction of the six nations which border it. Examines the relationship between the river and the large merchant fleet, the dense network of canals and waterways, riverside industry, pollution, and the Common Market. The film comprises the second part of Kleinberg’s film Rhine, The: River of Europe.

San Francisco (1956) An early Kleinberg documentary about the city's history, industries, and ethnic mix. Includes unique sections on the cultural activities of Italian-, Chinese- and German-Americans.

Switzerland, A Study in Contrasts (1971) Describes the historic backgrounds, institutions, and living habits of the Swiss. Points out the compatibility of traditional crafts and advanced technology in Switzerland, and the preservation of the practice of direct democracy.

Une Ferme Belge--français (1972) A French language teaching film for the third-level French student. Follows the daily life of a family on a Belgian farm. [French translation of Belgian Farm, above.]

Valais, The: Bread and Wine  (1971) Introduces the Swiss canton of Valais in the valley of the Rhone. Tells how the farmers have made the most of the short farming season through their tradition of communal labor which begins every new season with the tilling of the vineyards in early spring and ends with the baking of bread in a communal oven in winter.

What Kind of City? (1950) Documentary about the development of Los Angeles. Day-in-the-life presentation was decades ahead of its time in illustrating issues of air pollution, sprawl, traffic, and discrimination against Asian Americans. Ernest Kleinberg's first film.

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