This 1979 made-for-TV movie looks at the intersecting lives of people living at a specific address and gives us a candid peek at the lives of everyday people in the GDR. The events in Plantagenstrasse 19 (Plantagenstraße 19) primarily take place in an apartment building at the address in the film’s title.1 The story starts… Continue reading Plantagenstrasse 19
Shown once and then thrown in the Giftschrank (poison cabinet), this TV movie about a marriage in crisis had to wait until after the Wende for most people to see it. In Frank Beyer's Private Party (Geschlossene Gesellschaft),1 Robert (Armin Mueller-Stahl) and Ellen (Jutta Hoffmann) are a seemingly happy married couple. Robert is a talented… Continue reading Private Party
It’s finally here! Movies from Behind the Wall, my book on East German cinema is now available on Amazon either as a Kindle book or a 600-page print-on-demand book. Eventually, I’ll be making it available in other formats on other platforms as well. Full disclosure: much of the material in the book is available for… Continue reading East German Cinema Book Now on Sale!
In this wild, surreal film, the German poet Novalis reflects on moments in his life as he lays dying. Novalis: The Blue Flower (Novalis – Die blaue Blume) is recognized as the last film to be released by DEFA before the East Germany film production company closed its doors. The film is told episodically as… Continue reading Novalis: The Blue Flower
A modern fairytale about two kids in an elevator that descends into a wasteland where they encounter a blind horse, a knight in dirty underwear, a green-haired witch, and giant spider with an eyeball in its backside. Alongside the fairytale films that DEFA made throughout its existence, they also made a few films that would… Continue reading Ol’ Witch
This DEFA/West German coproduction about a daring bank robber was a huge hit on both side of the German border. It’s based on an actual bank robbery that took place in Berlin in 1951. In November of 1951, a man named Walter Pannewitz rented office spaces on the ground floor of the Römischer Hof, a… Continue reading The Break-In
The second film from DEFA captures the struggles of farmers and the people fleeing the destruction of the cities who are trying to start collectives in East Germany’s rural areas. Free Land (Freies Land) was the second film made for DEFA. Like The Murderers Are Among Us before it, Free Land is a rubble film,… Continue reading Free Land
For anyone interested in life in East Germany, there is a podcast called Radio GDR that covers nearly every every aspect of life there, from fashions to stamp collecting. In their most recent podcast, host Shane Whaley chatted about East German films with yours truly and Jefferey Babcock, who hosts screenings of DEFA films in… Continue reading Radio GDR Podcast on Films
Growing up is always painful, no matter where you’re from. There’s a point in life when you have to face the music, recognize you’re no longer a kid, and change your behavior. For fifteen-year-old Kurbel, that time comes after he nearly destroys the local forest. East Germany lasted forty years. During that time—DEFA, the state’s… Continue reading Damn It, I’m Grown Up
I’m pleased to announce that my translation of Frank Wedekind’s classic novella, Mine-Haha, or the Corporal Education of Young Girls is now available on Amazon as either a Kindle book or a paperback. Included in it is my description of the translation process and why I made the choices I did for various words, along… Continue reading Mine-Haha English Translation Now Available!