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

What Should I Watch?

A guide to what to watch while your stuck at home during the pandemic. Here are a few you East German films with English subtitles that are well worth seeing. I’m often asked for recommendations on East German movies that people should watch. There’s no one answer to this. I once showed my personal favorite… Continue reading What Should I Watch?

The Blue Light

As I’ve discussed on this blog before, East Germany had an above-average track record on female equality and films about women’s issues, yet there were only a few female directors at DEFA. First and foremost among these was Iris Gusner. She wasn’t the first women to direct feature films at DEFA. That honor goes to… Continue reading The Blue Light

Rumpelstiltskin

Kunz (Karl-Heinz Rothin) is a lazy miller who prefers to let his assistant Hans (Reinhard Michalke) do all the milling. When Hans can’t keep up and the farmers refuse to pay, the miller falls behind in his payments to the king. Kunz tells the king’s treasurer not to worry, because his daughter Marie (Karin Lesch)… Continue reading Rumpelstiltskin

Snow White

As discussed elsewhere on this blog, fairytale films were the closest thing to a cash cow the East German film industry had to offer. Beloved by East and West Germans alike and often featuring stories in which the poor and generous triumph over the rich and greedy, the fairytale film faced fewer hurdles when they… Continue reading Snow White

The Airship

In The Airship (Das Luftschiff), director Rainer Simon looks at the creative urge, how it drives a person forward, and how it can cloud their vision, leaving them vulnerable to exploitation. It is a wildly experimental film with a narrative that jumps back and forth in time and features direct-on-film animation. The film follows the… Continue reading The Airship

Pinocchio

While DEFA was far better at interpreting famous fairytales on film than Hollywood ever was, the fact is, many of the classics are so grotesque that any movie that did them justice would not be considered suitable for children. One such example is Carlo Collodi’s The Adventures of Pinocchio (Le avventure di Pinocchio). The story… Continue reading Pinocchio

Three Hazelnuts for Cinderella

Three Hazelnuts for Cinderella (Drei Haselnüsse für Aschenbrödel) was a co-production between East Germany and Czechoslovakia. DEFA made twelve films in co-production with the ČSSR’s Barrandov Film Studios. Some of these movies look like East German films, while others seem very Czechoslovakian. Three Hazelnuts for Cinderella falls squarely in the latter category thanks to the… Continue reading Three Hazelnuts for Cinderella

How to Marry King

Right from the opening credits, How to Marry a King (Wie heiratet man einen König?) lets us know that this is not going to be like any DEFA fairytale film that came before it. It starts in the real outdoors, not a film set, with long shots of a woman being kicked out of her… Continue reading How to Marry King