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

Love at 16

Two teenagers, who are paired up in dance class, eventually fall in love in this period piece from 1974. TRIGGER WARNING: Contains fashions from 1974. Love at 16 (Liebe mit 16) belongs to a list of DEFA films that focus on the concerns of teenagers. The list includes Just Don’t Think I’ll Cry, Too Young… Continue reading Love at 16

Just Married

Director Herrmann Zschoche takes an unromanticized look at young love in this follow up to his highly romantic Seven Freckles. Not all romances have storybook endings…. In 1978, director Herrmann Zschoche’s film Seven Freckles was a huge hit. That film told the story of two young lovers, finding each other and falling in love at… Continue reading Just Married

Those “Porcupine” Films (Das Stachetier)

Several of DEFA’s most well-known actors and directors got their starts making short films for the Das Stacheltier group. Here’s a look at the group, the films, and the people who made them. If you’ve read more than a couple of the articles on this blog, you’ll have come across the name “Das Stacheltier.” Formed… Continue reading Those “Porcupine” Films (Das Stachetier)

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 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

Journey Into the Nuptial Bed

East Germany had a difficult relationship with musicals. As with western audiences, the East German public enjoyed musicals and paid to go see them. The box office was good for nearly all the musicals DEFA made but the art form is so inherently frivolous that it drove the more stodgy politicians crazy. Making fairytale films… Continue reading Journey Into the Nuptial Bed

whisper & SHOUT

For anyone whose preconceptions about life in East Germany is informed by what was taught in American schools, whisper & SHOUT (flüstern & SCHREIEN) is the film to see. Made in 1988, it follows the exploits of several East German rock bands as they travel from venue to venue. In between, the film stops to… Continue reading whisper & SHOUT

Next Year at Lake Balaton

Road movies are common enough to warrant their own category. Whether the characters in a film are trying to get from point A to point B (The Straight Story, Vanishing Point), or simply enjoying the passing parade of life on the road (Easy Rider, Il Sorpasso), road movies have a special appeal. Although sometimes they… Continue reading Next Year at Lake Balaton

Interrogating the Witnesses

At first, Interrogating the Witnesses (Vernehmung der Zeugen) looks like it’s going to be a murder mystery, or a police procedural. A boy named Rainer (Mario Gericke) has been stabbed to death, and the doctor investigating the scene believes her son Max (René Steinke) is the killer. It turns out she’s right, and the the… Continue reading Interrogating the Witnesses