The Break-In

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

Seitensprung

While I normally use the English language title for my heading, I’ve decided to go with the German title on this one. There are a number of ways to translate this title into English. They include: “escapade,” “affair,” “a bit on the side,” “adultery,” and “infidelity.” Escapade is the title used by IMDB and some… Continue reading Seitensprung

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

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

Jana and Jan

With the notable exception of horror movies, the East German film industry (that is to say, DEFA) made films of nearly every genre from westerns to science fiction; from thrillers to romantic comedies. If it were a Hollywood film, Jana and Jan (Jana und Jan) would be categorized as a women-in-prison film, but without the… Continue reading Jana and Jan

The Land Beyond the Rainbow

After the Wall came down and West Germany, for all intents and purposes, took over East Germany, there came the inevitable retrospection. What the hell happened? How did we get from there to here? There were plenty of people who still believed in socialism, and thought it could lead to a better world than unbridled… Continue reading The Land Beyond the Rainbow

Herzsprung

When the Berlin Wall finally came down, East Germans danced for joy in the streets. No more Stasi, no more food shortages, no more travel restrictions, and no more fiddling with their Trabis to get the damned things started. At the time, most people in East Germany were glad to see the backside of the… Continue reading Herzsprung

Ete and Ali

Ete and Ali (Ete und Ali) is essentially a road movie, with one important difference: no one actually goes anywhere. The film follows the misadventures of the two men named in the title. Having just finished their military service, neither is sure what to do next. Bernhard—”Ete” to his friends—is a little guy. He is… Continue reading Ete and Ali

Driving School

Fahrschule

Q: Why were there no bank robberies in East Germany? A: Because you had to wait twelve years for the getaway car. So goes the joke, poking fun at the rather astounding wait times for purchasing automobiles in the GDR. In East Germany, you basically had two choices when it came to purchasing a car:… Continue reading Driving School