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…?
Not surprisingly, most of the films that came out of the DEFA studios in East Germany were concerned with the twentieth century, that being the century when old orders were overthrown in favor of various versions of Marxist philosophy. A few films went back as far as the late-nineteenth century, but concluded with the Second… Continue reading Minna von Barnhelm, or the Soldier’s Fortune
One of the most important events in the story of East German cinema was the expatriation of folksinger Wolf Biermann. It had more impact on filmmaking in the GDR than any other event short of the 11th Plenum. So how did this relatively insignificant political misstep play such havoc with the East German film industry?… Continue reading The Expatriation of Wolf Biermann
It is with great sadness I must announce that Manfred Krug has died. For any regular reader of this blog or fan of fan of East German films, Krug needs no introduction. It is safe to say that, with the notable exception of Erwin Geschonneck, no actor in East Germany was better known or more… Continue reading Obituary: Manfred Krug Has Died
Fire Below Deck (Feuer unter Deck) was first screened in theaters in 1982, and then only very briefly, but it had been scheduled to be released in 1977. This happened from time to time in East Germany when a film touched on some hot-button topic that either upset the authorities, or discussed something that was… Continue reading Fire Below Deck
In the history of East German films, the period between the 11th Plenum and Erich Honecker’s takeover from Walter Ulbricht is considered to be a dark time for DEFA films. That’s not to say there weren’t good, entertaining films made during this time. After all, this period saw the introduction of the Indianerfilm, Hot Summer,… Continue reading Farewell (Abschied)
Don’t Forget My Little Traudel (Vergesst mir meine Traudel nicht1) is the story of Gertraud (“Traudel”) Gerber, A 17-year-old whose mother died in the Ravensbrück concentration camp eleven years earlier. Since then Traudel has been living as an orphan but still carries around a last letter from her mother, which ends with the sentiment that… Continue reading Don’t Forget My Little Traudel
As mentioned elsewhere on this blog, the period between the building of the Berlin Wall and the 11th Plenum was a golden age for film in East Germany. The authorities were determined to prove that building the wall was not intended to repress the population, but was intended as an “anti-fascist protective barrier” (antifaschistischer Schutzwall)… Continue reading Star-Crossed Lovers
On the Sunny Side (Auf der Sonnenseite) is an entertaining little film about a man named Martin Hoff, who goes from working in a steel foundry to taking drama classes, only to be kicked out because of his behavior. It stars Manfred Krug, who, like Hoff, was working as a steelworker when he started taking… Continue reading On the Sunny Side
Not to Me, Madam! (Mit mir nicht, Madam!) is what is referred to in German as a Verwechslungskomödie, and in English as a comedy of errors. The English term dates back to Shakespeare, and is taken from his play of the same name. Although originally a theatrical term, there are plenty of movies that fall… Continue reading Not to Me, Madam!