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)
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
Carefree and perky, Marta moves through life without much thought, until things get real. Every once in a while, a television movie comes along that becomes as much a part of media literacy as any feature film. It’s the one that everyone was talking about the next day at work and continued to talk about … Continue reading Marta, Marta
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
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)
What Would Happen If…?
When a car full of strangers arrives in Willshagen, the rumors start to fly. The action in What Would Happen If…? (Was wäre, wenn...?) takes place in Willshagen, an imaginary village that sits in a bulge on the border between East and West Germany. Many of the people in the town have either joined the … Continue reading What Would Happen If…?
The Teleplays of Christa Kulosa
A popular format on East German TV was the teleplay. These were videotaped on stage in front of a live audience. In America, you’ll see this most often with sitcoms such as Cheers or I Love Lucy. Similarly, these East German teleplays were mostly comedies, but were unique, one-hour to hour-and-a-half shows rather than series … Continue reading The Teleplays of Christa Kulosa
Set a Fire, the Fire Brigade Is Coming
What happens to a fire department when the town there in never has any fires? That’s the idea behind the TruTV’s new comedy Tacoma FD. But it isn’t the first time someone thought of this. It’s also the concept behind Set a Fire, the Fire Brigade Is Coming (Zünd an, es kommt die Feuerwehr), the … Continue reading Set a Fire, the Fire Brigade Is Coming
Journey Into the Nuptial Bed
East Germany had a difficult relationship with musicals. As with western audiences, the East German public enjoyed musicals and paid to go see them. The box office was good for nearly all the musicals DEFA made but the art form is so inherently frivolous that it drove the more stodgy politicians crazy. Making fairytale films … Continue reading Journey Into the Nuptial Bed
The Arctic Sea Calls
In case you ever wondered what the Little Rascals (Our Gang) would look like as an East German concept, The Arctic Sea Calls (Das Eismeer ruft) answers the question. It's the story of a band of spunky kids who take upon themselves to hike from Prague to the Bering Strait in an attempt to rescue … Continue reading The Arctic Sea Calls