The Robe (Das Kleid)

It was just a lighthearted fairytale, but it hit a little too close to home for the East German authorities. It’s said that timing is everything. This is certainly true when it comes to movies. Billy Wilder’s Ace in the Hole was one of his best films, and had it been released in the early … Continue reading The Robe (Das Kleid)

Mother Courage and Her Children

Bertolt Brecht’s grim tale of a woman for whom war is a source of income is committed to film with the definitive cast from Brecht’s Berliner Ensemble in East Germany. There have been many anti-war plays over the years, but none so well-regarded as Bertolt Brecht’s classic Mother Courage and Her Children (Mutter Courage und … Continue reading Mother Courage and Her Children

Life Together

East Germany’s DEFA film production company greenlights a light and happy rom-com with a subtle bit of subversion buried beneath the froth. Life Together (Leben zu zweit) is a romantic comedy with a plot that sounds like something straight out of Hollywood. Karin Werner (Marita Böhme) is the divorced mother in her mid-thirties, who's been … Continue reading Life Together

Cyanide

East German television looks at the issue of abortion in a teleplay that tackles the issue head on. Abortion as a hot button topic is nothing new. Witness the German playwright Friedrich Wolf's play Cyanide (Cyankali). It debuted in 1929 and made into a movie the following year. The play was first performed at the … Continue reading Cyanide

Red Fox

Eve, the beautiful redhead who delivers the mail, just wants somebody to love. Who would think that such a beautiful woman would find it so hard to get a guy? The Red Fox (Rotfuchs) of the title is Eve Kolinauke (Angelika Waller), a postal worker in the small river town of Müritz (filmed in Tangermünde … Continue reading Red Fox

The Man From Canada

Spies from the West are planning to get a jet pilot in MiG to defect to West Germany and it's up to the clever Stasi agents to stop them. The first of trilogy of films features the Stasi agent Major Sander. The sixties were the decade of spy films. That’s not to say there weren’t … Continue reading The Man From Canada

Camping-Camping

A light-hearted look at beach camping, infidelity seventies fashions, and Trabants. Lots and lots of Trabants. In 1991, less than two years after the Berlin Wall came down, a film called Go Trabi Go hit the cinemas in Germany. It’s the story of a man, his wife, and their bored teenage daughter who—taking advantage of … Continue reading Camping-Camping

The Female Director of East Germany, Pt. 2: The DFF Directors

In my last article, I looked at the women who made feature films for DEFA. Even more overlooked—but no less worthy of attention—are the women who directed films for Deutscher Fernsehfunk (DFF), the GDR’s state-run television station broadcaster.1 For DEFA directors, especially after the 11th Plenum, television was sometimes used as a form of punishment … Continue reading The Female Director of East Germany, Pt. 2: The DFF Directors