Life Together

East Germany’s DEFA film production company greenlights a light and happy rom-com with a subtle bit of subversion buried beneath the froth. Life Together (Leben zu zweit) is a romantic comedy with a plot that sounds like something straight out of Hollywood. Karin Werner (Marita Böhme) is the divorced mother in her mid-thirties, who's been … Continue reading Life Together

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

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

Were the Earth Not Round

While sitting in a hospital with her ailing daughter, an East German woman reflects on her relationship with a Syrian man and her grandfather’s obsession with building a perpetual motion machine. Were the Earth Not Round (Wäre die Erde nicht rund) is the story of Christiane (Bożena Stryjkówna), an East German woman studying geology at … Continue reading Were the Earth Not Round

Lotte in Weimar

In 1774, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s The Sorrows of Young Werther took Germany by storm.1 Goethe would go on to become the most important writer in Germany and it started with this book. The book is told from the perspective of a young man, pining over his unrequited love for a woman named Lotte. He … Continue reading Lotte in Weimar

Biology!

A fifteen-year-old girl decides that the adults in her community aren’t taking environmental issues seriously enough, so she starts a campaign to keep them from destroying the environment. Sound familiar? This film was made fourteen years before Greta Thunberg was born. In 1989, the government in the GDR had begun to relax its restrictions on … Continue reading Biology!

Marta, Marta

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

Simplon Tunnel

A romantic triangle story told against the backdrop of the building of the Simplon Tunnel at the beginning of the Twentieth Century, as workers battle the elements to build one of the longest railway tunnels in the world.