Posts Tagged ‘Berlin Wall’

Revue um MItternacht

Communist musicals are in a class by themselves. So much so that in 1997, filmmaker Dana Ranga made them the subject of her fascinating documentary East Side Story—required viewing for anyone interested in the films of the GDR or other Eastern Bloc countries. In a world as grim and gray as East Germany could be, the colorful happiness and tuneful joy of the musicals exploded like psychedelic bombs on the movie screens of the former republic. Small wonder that they tended to pack people in. Right from the get-go the authorities didn’t think much of these happy, lighthearted features, but they made money, and even in an aggressively anti-capitalistic place like the GDR, money talked.

For a long time, DEFA had no intention of producing anything as frivolous as a musical, but the immense popularity of the DEFA Märchenfilme (fairytale films), which were made for East German children, but went on to become popular all over the world, helped pave the way for opera films (e.g., Zar und Zimmermann), which, in turn, opened the door for the modern musical.

In 1958, DEFA finally decided to give musicals a chance after a report showed that people in East Berlin would often cross the border to see the musicals playing in the western sector. Hollywood extravaganzas and their West German counterparts (most notably, the films of Marika Rökk) were filling West Berlin’s cinemas. DEFA decided to fight fire with fire. It was decided that as long as it didn’t contravene socialist values, a musical might be okay.

West Berliner Hans Heinrich—who had already directed the popular DEFA barge films, Kahn der fröhlichen Leute (The Happy Barge Crew) and Alter Kahn und junge Liebe (Old Barge, Young Love)—submitted a proposal for a musical to DEFA and it was accepted. The film Meine Frau macht Musik (My Wife Wants to Sing), was promptly shelved, but the popularity of the music, which was released as an LP, led the authorities to rethink this plan, eventually releasing the film, although changing some of the music (more on this in a future post).

But throughout the fifties, the DEFA authorities remained wary of the musical genre. As a rule, song-and-dance numbers had to be incorporated in a semi-realistic fashion into the stories. For this reason, two of the more popular films from this period were Maibowle (The Punch Bowl) and its even more popular sequel, Silvesterpunsch (New Year’s Eve Punch), in which the musical numbers are parts of shows put on by the workers at a chemical plant. Never mind that, like their American counterparts, these musical numbers defied the realistic limitations of stage production.

After the Berlin Wall went up, the East German government was anxious to show that, if anything, the newly constructed “Anti-fascist Protection Barrier” (Antifaschistischer Schutzwall) would lead to greater creative freedom in the GDR. They started to greenlight movies that only a year earlier would not have gotten past the proposal stage. Films became more experimental and daring. This was the golden age of East German cinema—at least until the 11th Plenum in 1965 brought the renaissance to a screeching halt.

Into this new climate walked Gottfried Kolditz; one of the best directors to come out of East Germany. After studying at the University of Music and Theatre in Leipzig, Kolditz came to DEFA as a musical consultant for the films Mazurka der Liebe (Mazurka of Love), and Zar und Zimmermann (Tzar and Carpenter). He began his directing career as a member of the Stacheltier Group, which specialized in creating short films to play before the features. The Stacheltier Group created only one feature-length movie, Der junge Engländer (The Young Englishman) and it was directed by Kolditz. From there, Kolditz started directing features, mostly Märchenfilme. Over the years, Kolditz became DEFA’s go-to guy for genre films, directing musicals (Midnight Revue and Geliebte weiße Maus), Indianerfilme (Apaches and Ulzana), and science fiction (Signals and In the Dust of the Stars). With the exception of the Indianerfilme, Kolditz usually managed to get insert a musical number or two into his movies. The man clearly loved music.

Midnight Revue wastes no time letting us know that we are watching a musical. It starts with the smoky-voiced French chanteuse, Nicole Felix, singing about the “shadows of the past” (Das ist die Schatten der Vergangenheit) while suspiciously clandestine activities are going on in the next room. Activities that, as the song suggests, really were shadows of the past, when the cold war was raging across the porous border. Within the first half-hour of the film, we’ve been treated to a can-can, a hula dance (with East German women painted brown with what looks like shoe polish), and a Busby Berkeley-style number that includes women tap-dancing on pianos and playing accordions in tutus. Even if you don’t speak a word of German, the first half hour will keep you entertained.

The plot of the film involves the kidnapping of three prominent men in the film industry: an art director, a composer, and a dramaturge (a very important job at DEFA; see the Glossary for more information). It turns out that they are kidnapped by producer Otto Kruse, who wants to make a socialist musical; a kind of cavalcade of musical styles—in other words, the very film we are watching. The idea is to hold these men hostage and convince them to work on the film. Their response to this demand is that making such a film would be too difficult, too expensive, and too politically risky. “Too hot,” they sing (Zu Heiß). Associate producer Theo, and Kruse’s assistant, Claudia Glück, try to convince the men that a revue film is a great idea by conceptualizing various scenarios, which then come to life in the room, but to no avail. The men refuse to budge.

A fourth man—writer Paul Bielack—was also supposed to be kidnapped, but, unlike the other three, he knew of Kruse’s plan and sent his friend, an aspiring singer-songwriter named Alexander Ritter, in his place. Ritter is the only one of the four kidnapped men who thinks a revue film is a great idea, and immediately contributes his own ideas to the project. What no one knows is that Ritter had been lusting after Claudia Glück already. Immediately, sparks start to fly between Ritter and Glück. Ms. Glück thinks Ritter is arrogant and childish. He is, in her words, a halbfertiger Mensch (“half-finished man”). This comment really seems to upset Mr. Ritter (like most Germans, he doesn’t like anything half-finished). At this point, anyone who has seen more than one romantic comedy will realize that the these two will eventually get together, but not before a few more kidnappings, deceptions, and misunderstandings.

Playing Alexander Ritter is Manfred Krug, one of East Germany’s most multi-talented actors (see The Trace of Stones for more on Krug). Krug had already made a name for himself as an actor in the popular films Five Cartridges (Fünf Patronenhülsen), Professor Mamlock, and Königskinder  (Star-Crossed Lovers), but he first showed his talent as both a singer and an actor in Auf der Sonnenseite (On the Sunny Side), a film that parallels his own life in many ways. With Midnight Revue, he gets to unleash everything in his arsenal, except maybe his ability to play several different people in one movie. That would have to wait for Mit mir nicht, Madam! (Not To Me, Madam!), in which he portrays nine different people.

Playing opposite Krug as production assistant Claudia Glück is Christel Bodenstein. The public first saw Ms. Bodenstein as Traute in the Märchenfilm, Das tapfere Schneiderlein (The Valiant Tailor), but it was her turn as the arrogant princess in The Singing, Ringing Tree that she really caught people’s attention. A West German by birth, Ms. Bodenstein moved to Leipzig with her mother in 1949, where she enrolled in the Leipzig Opera ballet school. When she was 17, a chance meeting with director Kurt Maetzig at a Baltic resort led to a screen test for DEFA. She then moved from Leipzig and began studying acting at the Academy for Film and Television in Potsdam. Shortly afterward, she was cast in Slatan Dudow’s Der Hauptmann von Köln (The Captain from Cologne). From 1960 until 1978, she was married to director Konrad Wolf. As with many other East German actors, she did very little in film and television after the Wende, turning her attentions instead to theater. More recently, she has been working as a sculptor, with her work appearing in galleries in the Berlin area.

Although Krug and Bodenstein had appeared once before in the same film (Bevor der Blitz einschlägt), this was the first time they were paired as a romantic couple and it seemed to work. They were paired up twice more within a year (Minna von Barnhelm and Beschreibung eines Sommers). Christel Bodenstein is the classic example of the “triple-threat”—that rare individual who can act, sing, and dance. And while Krug isn’t the hoofer that Ms. Bodenstein is, he can hold his own against her in the other two categories.

The music for the film is by Gerd Natschinski, who had worked with Gottfried Kolditz before on Mazurka der Liebe. Along with Gunther Fischer and Karl-Ernst Sasse (who is credited in Midnight Revue as the conductor of the DEFA Symphony Orchestra), Natschinski is one of East Germany’s most prolific composers. He wrote much of the music for Meine Frau Macht Musik, but is best remembered for the relentlessly infectious songs in Hot Summer. After Midnight Revue, Natschinski turned to the stage, writing the music for Mein Freund Bunbury (My Friend Bunbury), East Germany’s first theatrical musical. He could also turn in a good dramatic score, as he did for Joachim Hasler’s Chronik eines Mordes (The Story of a Murder).

No discussion Midnight Revue would be complete without mentioning the colorful camerawork of its cinematographer, Erich Gusko. Along with Werner Bergmann, Joachim Hasler, and Günter Marczinkowsky, Gusko was one of DEFA’s most respected cinematographers. He got his start in 1955, working alongside Joachim Hasler on Richard Groschopp’s 52 Wochen sind ein Jahr (52 Weeks Make a Year). Over the  years, he worked on many excellent DEFA movies, including The Rabbit is Me, Lotte in Weimar, and Her Third. His work in various Märchenfilme and in Midnight Revue are especially vivid, taking full advantage of the eye-bleeding colors available to East Germany’s Agfacolor (later renamed ORWOcolor because of a copyright dispute with West Germany).

Also deserving of mention are Hans Kieselbach and Helga Scherff, who created the costumes for the film. Although Kieselbach did his first costume design in 1940, for the film Traummusik (Dream Music), that was his only effort under the Third Reich. His career began in earnest in 1948 with DEFA’s first science fiction film, Chemie und Liebe (Chemistry and Love). Midnight Revue was his last film. Helga Scherff, on the other hand, was in the middle of her career with this film. She was the costume designer for Konrad Wolf’s first film Einmal ist keinmal (Once Doesn’t Count), the first of Gerhad Klein’s Berlin trilogy, Alarm im Zirkus (Alarm at the Circus), Frank Beyer’s Carbide and Sorrel, and Kurt Barthel’s ill-fated Fräulein Schmetterling (Miss Butterfly). The costumes in Midnight Revue cover the gamut. The clothing worn by the characters is stylish and modern, and the outfits worn by the dancers are as outrageously colorful as they should be. Between the costumes and the cinematography, the film matches the visual overload of The Red Shoes and The Girl Can’t Help It (probably the only time in history these two movies end up in the same sentence).

Finally, no discussion of this film would be complete without talking about its production designer, Alfred Tolle. Tolle’s career at DEFA began with Das kalte Herz (The Cold Heart), the first East German Märchenfilm. From there he went on to do the production design/art direction for several more Märchenfilme, as well as a few classics from the DEFA catalog, including Einmal ist Keinmal, Auf der Sonnenseite, and Chronik eines Mordes. His last film was Joachim Hasler’s Hot Summer. Always imaginative, Tolle gets to explore his inner Busby Berkeley in Midnight Revue with a giant piano keyboard, a three-story cupboard filled with women playing musical instruments, and a stylized blueprint come to life. Working with him as a set builder on the film was Werner Pieske, who went on to become a successful production designer in his own right. Pieske got his start as a feature film production designer with Gottfried Kolditz on Frau Holle (Mrs. Holle) and Geliebte weiße Maus (Dear White Mouse). He was one of the people responsible for the look of Herrmann Zschoche’s oddball space opera, Eolomea. Toward the latter half of the seventies until the Wende, he worked primarily in television. He was also the production designer for Gottfried Kolditz’s last film, the heavily criticized Das Ding im Schloß (The Thing in the Castle). His career ended with the Wende. He died in 1992.

Beginning a movie with the kidnapping of three people is startling even today, but back then—after several reported incidences of East German spies snatching people off the streets of West Berlin before the wall went up—it must have hit close to home. Follow these scenes with one in which three experts tell us exactly why the very film we are watching can never be made. The public must have been as amused as the authorities were nonplussed. Like Billy Wilder and Preston Sturges—who discovered that through comedy you could skirt the Hayes Code—Kolditz uses humor to go places that no other East German filmmaker dared. As a document of its time, Midnight Revue is unique. It shows an East Germany that is moving toward the future with with hope and enthusiasm. Within a couple years, there would be no way this film could have been made. It broke every rule in the socialist book. Even after Erich Honecker relaxed the restrictions on film imposed by the SED at the 11th Plenum, it would be years before DEFA got back to this level of imagination and style, and even then, the buoyant vivacity of this film and Kolditiz’s other pre-Plenum musical, Geliebte weiße Maus, would never be matched.

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One of the joys of East German cinema is watching the way film and reality smack into each other. The DEFA Library at UMass in Amherst just released as perfect an example of this as anyone could wish for. The Flight (Die Flucht) is the story of Dr. Schmith, a medical researcher who is torn between staying in East Germany and fleeing to the west. He initially decides to leave the GDR after the review board where he works rejects his proposal for work on premature-birth infant mortality. He enlists the aid of an agency that helps people get out the country, but later, when the review board reverses its decision, the doctor has a change of heart. He tries to back out of the deal, but finds the people with whom he arranged the escape are unwilling to let him out of his contract. To compound matters, he begins a relationship with a young woman who was recently transferred to his hospital. He wants her to join him, but can’t bring himself to tell her about his defection plans.

Considering the touchy nature of the subject matter, and the often touchy disposition of the DEFA approval board, the fact that Roland Gräf was able to get this film made at all, much less shown in theaters, is a a bit of a magic trick. One misstep and this film would have ended up on a shelf until the wall came down. Gräf’s deft (some would say politick) handling of the subject matter is the secret.

Of course, the story is told from a strictly East German perspective. Some aspects of this film may seem absurd to western audiences. The people helping Schmith to escape are an evil, money-driven bunch, while the Stasi agent that questions Schmith about the attempted defection of a colleague of his is portrayed as an easy-going, jovial sort of chap. Like Manfred Herrfurth in Konrad Wolf’s Divided Heaven, Schmith’s decision to go to the west is based on his frustration at being rejected (in other words, his own ego). In both films, the initial rejection is eventually rescinded, suggesting that, in the end, the authorities will do the right thing.

The film stars Armin Mueller-Stahl, who, by the time this film was made, had already starred in some of DEFA’s best films, including Five Cartridges (Fünf Patronenhülsen), Königskinder (Star-Crossed Lovers), Naked Among Wolves, Her Third, and Jakob the Liar. After Wolf Biermann’s forced expatriation in 1976, Mueller-Stahl, along with many other leading actors, writers, and directors in East Germany, signed a petition protesting this action. Most of the people on the list—a list that included Frank Beyer, Angelica Domröse, Jutta Hoffmann, and Manfred Krug—found themselves blacklisted by DEFA. Mueller-Stahl made one more made-for-TV film (Geschlossene Gesellschaft) before his request for an exit visa was granted and he moved to the west. In West Germany, Mueller-Stahl quickly reestablished himself as a popular actor, drawing critical praise for his performances in Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s Lola and Veronika Voss. This led to a starring  role opposite Jessica Lange in Costa-Gavras’s Music Box, which in turn led to other roles in American films. In 1997, he was nominated for an Academy Award for his performance in Shine, and in 2011 he was given a Golden Bear lifetime achievement award at the Berlinale Film Festival, for which he received a three-minute standing ovation.

Of course, there is no way that Roland Gräf or anyone at DEFA could have known that Armin Mueller-Stahl would leave the country so soon after The Flight was made. The fact that he had already applied for his exit visa when it was being shot adds an ironic depth to some scenes, particularly the ones where the patriotism of people who leave the GDR is being discussed.

Playing his love interest in the film is Jenny Gröllmann at her most adorable. Gröllmann was a successful film and theater actress in East Germany, appearing in several feature films and TV movies. During the sixties, she primarily concentrated on her theater career, appearing in several productions at the Maxim Gorki Theater in Berlin. In film, she attracted critical praise right from the start with her performance in the anthology film, Geschichten jener Nacht (Stories of That Night). She received further praise for her role as the frightened German girl in Konrad Wolf’s I Was Nineteen. After the Wende, Gröllmann continued to work, primarily in television, appearing in nearly every major show on German TV. In 2001, the weekly magazine SUPERillu published excerpts from the Federal Commissioner for the Stasi Archives 522-page report that claimed Ms. Gröllmann had been a Stasi informer (IM). Her ex-husband, Ulrich Mühe, repeated these claims in a book he published after his star turn in The Lives of Others. Ms. Gröllmann went to court to stop these  allegations, stating under oath that she never knowingly worked for the Stasi. The court found in favor of Ms. Gröllmann and the offending passages were blacked-out in copies of Mühe’s book. Jenny Gröllmann  died of breast cancer in 2006.

At the time he made this movie, director Roland Gräf was ending a career as one of East Germany’s most respected cinematographers. He first made waves in the film community with his work on Jürgen Böttcher’s Born in ‘45 (but only in the film community—the film was banned before the public got a chance to see it). He began his career as a director in 1971 with Mein lieber Robinson (My Friend Robinson), which he also co-wrote and photographed. Also, it was Roland Gräf who discovered the long-lost copy of The Dove on the Roof, thus saving that film from destruction. As a cinematographer he was known for his cinema verité style, making the films he worked on seem almost like documentaries. Although The Flight is very much a dramatic film, we can see some of his love of realistic environments here, especially in the scenes in the premmie ward, which seem to have been filmed in an actual hospital.

The music is by the jazz musician, Gunther Fischer. The credits list the music in this film as being “based on motifs by Mussorgsky,” but there is more than a little Morricone in mournful whistling of the theme song. By the time this film was made, Fischer was well on his way to become the second most prodigious film composer in East Germany (first place going to classical composer, Karl-Ernst Sasse). A few years after this film was made, Fischer would go on to score his biggest success as a composer with the hit movie, Solo Sunny.

As one can imagine, a DEFA film that openly addressed such a taboo subject proved to be very popular, both publicly and critically. It won the Grand Prix at the Karoly Vary International Film Festival in 1978, and the Association of Film and Television Workers in the GDR chose it as the best contemporary film (Gegenwartsfilm) of 1977. Critics on both sides of the Iron Curtain thought the film did a good job of addressing some of the reasons for people wanting to leave the GDR, although western critics, predictably found the film’s resolution of these issues unsatisfactory. In spite of these objections, the film stands as a rare glimpse into the feelings and perceptions of both the authorities and the people of East Germany when it came to the subject of Republikflucht, and is not to be missed by anyone interested in that country’s history.

 

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Divided Heaven

Posted: December 4, 2011 in 11th Plenum, Dean Reed, Feminism, Konrad Wolf
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East Germany’s history is surprising, paradoxical, and weird. Just when you thought things were going to to lapse into a bleak recreation of 1984, the government would make a U-turn on some policy and relax the rules. Nowhere is this more evident than in the film community, where periods of creative freedom were followed by vicious clamp downs, and vice versa. The most pronounced example of this shift happened right after the Berlin Wall was erected. Touted as an “anti-fascist protective barrier,” authorities in the GDR were eager to demonstrate that the wall would help their country blossom by keeping out the insidious influences of American capitalists and West German Altnazis. Filmmakers and writers were granted a level of freedom of expression they had not seen before. It was during the first few years after the wall went up that some of the best books and films that the GDR had to offer were made. Meanwhile on the other side of the wall, West German films had gotten so banal that a group of young filmmakers at the International Short Film Festival in Oberhausen delivered their famous Oberhausen Manifesto, declaring that the “Old film is dead. We believe in the new” (Der alte Film ist tot. Wir glauben an den neuen).

One person who would take full advantage of this renaissance was a talented writer named Christa Wolf. Ms. Wolf’s first book, The Divided Heaven (Der geteilte Himmel) was an immediate hit on both sides of the Wall. Shortly after its publication, filmmaker Konrad Wolf (no relation) decided to make a movie of it. Ms. Wolf and her husband Gerhard were hired to write the screenplay, along with Kurt Barthel, a poet and author who had already demonstrated a talent for screenwriting with the scripts for Kurt Maetzig’s Castles and Cottages and Don’t Forget My Little Traudel under his pseudonym, KuBa.

The film follows the book closely. A young woman named Rita Seidel is shown staggering along the train tracks in a railroad car factory in Halle when she suddenly collapses. The rest of the film is told in flashback, relating the story of her love affair with Manfred Herrfurth, an ambitious young chemist. Manfred is a cynical young man whose personal ambition is in direct odds with socialist ideology. Rita, on the other hand, remains positive, and wants her work to benefit the community, not just her own ego. Most of the action takes place in the months prior to the construction of the Berlin Wall. Disgusted with the initial rejection of his new chemical process, Manfred moves to West Berlin. Rita goes to join him but finds the rampant consumerism, endless street noise, and the interpersonal alienation too much to bear. Accepting that she and Manfred live in different worlds, she returns to Halle where she collapses on the job (in the book, her collapse is due to an attempted suicide, in the movie, it seems to be simply her sadness overwhelming her nervous system).

What makes this film (and the book) so unique is the even-handed way in which it deals with both sides of the divided country. While its heart is admittedly closer to the socialist side of the things, the film does a good job of making us understand Manfred’s frustration with a system that is sometimes its own worst enemy. The portrayal of the work brigade in this film is similar to that in Frank Beyer’s film, Trace of Stones, which came out after the 11th Plenum and faced heavy criticism in spite of the fact that the book it was based on was already a best seller in East Germany.

As with some other Konrad Wolf films (e.g., Stars, Sun Seekers, Solo Sunny), the lead is played by a relatively unknown actress. Here it is Renate Blume, who was still in drama school when she got the part. After graduating in 1965, she started working primarily in theater and later as part of the East German television (DFF) ensemble. From 1965 to 1974, she was married to director Frank Beyer, but worked with him on only one project: the TV mini-series, Die sieben Affären der Doña Juanita (The Seven Affairs of Doña Juanita). After divorcing Beyer, she lived with the popular Indianerfilme actor, Gojko Mitic, whom she met while working on Apaches. In 1976, while working on Kit & Co, she met the American actor, Dean Reed, and fell in love. The were married in 1981, and Ms. Blume stayed with Reed until his death by suicide in 1986 (for more about Dean Reed, see Blood Brothers). As with many other East German actors, she found it hard at first to get film work in the newly unified Germany and began teaching classes in acting and appearing on stage. After a few guest roles on popular German TV shows (e.g., Tatort, Edel & Starck), she was hired to play Ingrid Lindbergh on the series, Fünf Sterne (Five Stars). which ran from 2005 to 2008 on NDF.

The cinematographer was Werner Bergmann, whom Wolf used for all but his last two films. As with other DEFA films from this period, the camerawork is stunning. Armed with the newer lighter cameras, and inspired by the work of the French New Wave, the filmmakers in East Germany were pushing the boundaries of filmmaking with each new project. One of the most startlingly photographed scenes occurs when a group of scientists are sitting around a coffee table, chatting. The camera continuously circles them while they speak. Ten years later, West German cinematographer Michael Ballhaus would be lauded for inventing this same sort of shot in Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s TV-movie, Martha. From the very first time we see Rita and Manfred together, we notice that there is often a dividing element occupying the space between them. Sometimes it is a lamp pole, and other times it is a window frame or a railing. These act as subtle clues to the division facing the lovers, at first, ideological and after the wall, physical.

Helga Krause’s editing in this film is flawless. It seems to be intentionally following the jazzy rhythms of Hans-Dieter Hosalla’s score. The counterpoint between these two elements is exhilarating. Scenes jump from melancholy music to voice-overs to complete silence in startling and imaginative ways.

Also worth of mention is Konrad Walle’s sound work. Since film is primarily a visual medium, it is all to easy to overlook the sound mixing, but sound in this film, is as important as the images. At times it is remarkably subtle, such as the muted whir if a tape recorder rewinding in the background, or the dissonant banging on an organ that is meant to imitate car horns. Sometimes it is in your face, like the recreated broadcasts of Yuri Gagarin’s flight into space.

Christa Wolf is now regarded as one of Germany’s foremost authors. Her novel, Cassandra, is considered a classic of feminist literature and has been translated into nearly every major language. After her Stasi files were released to the public, it was revealed that Ms. Wolf had worked briefly an informer for the Stasi in 1959, but her benign reports led them to believe that she wasn’t really cooperating with them and they let her go, choosing instead to spy on her for the next thirty years. In 1976, she was one of the many signatories to the letter of protest against the expatriation of Wolf Biermann. An action that got her banned from the East German Writers’ Union (Deutscher Schriftstellerverband). Sadly, Ms. Wolf died December 1, 2011 in Berlin while I was writing this blog entry.

Divided Heaven was one of the last films to take full advantage of the new creative freedom the wall afforded. A year after its release, the 11th Plenum of the SED would put and end to this brief but shining period in East German film history, blaming the media for the country’s economic problems and banning wholesale an entire years worth of films. After that, any film with even the slightest criticism of the way things were was seen as a threat to the system. Christa Wolf’s next film project was made with Kurt Barthel, whom she met while working on Divided Heaven. That film, Fräulein Schmetterling (Miss Butterfly), was banned before it was finished and relegated to the storage facility at DEFA. After the Wende, nearly all the footage was found, but much of the soundtrack was missing. Although it already had been shown on both sides of the wall, Divided Heaven also found itself banned from time to time throughout the rest of the GDR’s existence, but remains as one of the best films that DEFA ever made.

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