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

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

Radio Killer

It’s no secret that the East Germans and the West Germans spied on each other. Like the characters in Antonio Prohías’ Spy vs. Spy cartoon strip, each side continually sought new ways to find out what the other side was up to. The listening post on the Teufelsberg in Berlin is an example of this. … Continue reading Radio Killer

Today is Friday

By 1989, Nina Hagen was well-known in West Germany, but few people there knew anything about her past. She was the operatic, punk demon lady from the far side of the moon spouting mystic mumbo-jumbo and singing like nobody else. Then the wall came down and we westerners saw a whole other side of her—the … Continue reading Today is Friday