Novalis: The Blue Flower

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

Ol’ Witch

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

The Break-In

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

Free Land

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

Radio GDR Podcast on Films

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

Damn It, I’m Grown Up

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

Mine-Haha English Translation Now Available!

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!

Just Married

Director Herrmann Zschoche takes an unromanticized look at young love in this follow up to his highly romantic Seven Freckles. Not all romances have storybook endings…. In 1978, director Herrmann Zschoche’s film Seven Freckles was a huge hit. That film told the story of two young lovers, finding each other and falling in love at… Continue reading Just Married

Those “Porcupine” Films (Das Stachetier)

Several of DEFA’s most well-known actors and directors got their starts making short films for the Das Stacheltier group. Here’s a look at the group, the films, and the people who made them. If you’ve read more than a couple of the articles on this blog, you’ll have come across the name “Das Stacheltier.” Formed… Continue reading Those “Porcupine” Films (Das Stachetier)

Rivals Behind the Wheel

One of the odder entries in the East German film catalog is this film about international motor racing: A fictionalized account of one of Germany’s best and most unlucky race-car drivers. When one thinks of East German movies, car racing films are not the first things that come to mind, but they did make one.… Continue reading Rivals Behind the Wheel