The Great King (German: Der große König) is a 1942 German drama film directed by Veit Harlan and starring Otto Gebühr. It depicts the life of Frederick the Great, who ruled Prussia from 1740 to 1786. It received the rare "Film of the Nation" distinction. It was part of a popular cycle of "Prussian films".
The film is a depiction of the Führerprinzip, with the analogy to Adolf Hitler being so clear that Hitler sent a print to Benito Mussolini, and Joseph Goebbels warned against the drawing of the comparison in print, in particular, because of the pessimistic mood that opens the film. After a sergeant gives an unauthorised order, the king orders him simultaneously promoted and punished.His decision to desert after this results in his death, because no disobedience is justified. Goebbels declared that the parallels were not a matter of propaganda, but an obvious result of the parallels of history.
Goebbels also regarded it as instructive that current sufferings would be a source of strength.
Goebbels had some difficulty with the Army High Command over this film, because it depicted the king left in the lurch by his general. He complained that the army felt that any depiction, however historical, reflected badly on them.Otto Gebühr as Friedrich II.
Kristina Söderbaum as Luise Treskow
Gustav Fröhlich as Treskow
Hans Nielsen as Niehoff
Paul Wegener as General Czernitscheff
Paul Henckels as Grenadier Spiller
Elisabeth Flickenschildt as Spiller's Wife
Kurt Meisel as Alfons
Hilde Körber as Elisabeth
Claus Clausen as Prinz Heinrich der Ältere
Klaus Detlef Sierck as Prinz Heinrich der Jüngere
Herbert Hübner as Graf Finkenstein
Franz Schafheitlin as Oberst Bernburg
Otto F. Henning as General von Finken
Reginald Pasch as General Manteufel
Director Veit Harlan won the Mussolini Cup for Best Foreign Film at the 1942 Venice Film Festival.