1956, East Germany (DEFA), b/w, 81 min.
Camera: Wolf Göthe.
Annekathrin Bürger, Ulrich Thein, Uwe-Jens Pape, Erika Dunkelmann, Erich Franz.
VHS-NTSC, English subtitles:
A Berlin Romance is a love story about the seventeen-year-old
Uschi, an East German saleswoman, and Hans, an unemployed auto mechanic from
West Berlin. The city is reflected though their eyes and feelings. The bright shop windows in West Berlin
are much more appealing to Uschi than the plain gray buildings in the East, so
she leaves her parents’ house for the West.
Together with her, the audience takes a glance behind the façade of the
West German “economic miracle.” In
the end, she returns home to her parents along with Hans, who finds a job and
makes a living in the East.
This film was the second work of director Gerhard Klein and
scriptwriter Wolfgang Kohlhaase after the children’s detective story
Alarm in the Circus. Inspired by Italian neo-realist film,
these artists accurately depict the day-to-day life of the divided city. However, the frank images of dreams and
longings of Berlin youth found little support in the Ministry of Film in the
GDR. Among other criticisms, the
film was said to encourage East German youth to search for adventure in West
Germany. Klein and Kohlhaase didn’t
let these obstacles get in their way and later filmed the movie
Berlin – Schönhauser Corner (1957),
another realistic Berlin film.
These films are now considered the best and most precise portrayals of the East
Berlin youth scene during the Cold War.
About the Director:
Gerhard Klein was born on May 1, 1920 in Berlin.
Klein was a trained cartoonist with a background in short, popular film. In 1946 he began working for DEFA as a
scriptwriter, and he worked as a member of the short film department. Klein eventually earned a position as an
assistant director. As of 1949 he
worked as a popular science and documentary film director, a position which he
held for many years. Klein died in
1970 at the age of fifty in Berlin.
Alarm im Zirkus (1953), Eine
Berliner Romanze (1956), Der Fall
Gleiwitz (1961), and Berlin um die
About the Scriptwriter:
Wolfgang Kohlhaase was born on May 13, 1931 in
began writing while he was in school in Berlin, and in 1947 he was a volunteer
as well as an editor for a youth newspaper. He also worked for
the FDJ newspaper Junge Welt. He began his
career at DEFA in 1950; by 1952 Kohlhaase was a freelance scriptwriter and
Alarm im Zirkus
Romanze (1956), Berlin - Ecke Schönhauser (1957),
Der Fall Gleiwitz
(1961), Berlin um die Ecke
(1965/90), Ich war
neunzehn (1968), Solo Sunny
(1980), Der Aufenthalt
Nach dem letzten
Claus, Horst. “Rebels with a Cause: The Development of the Berlin Filme by Gerhard Klein and Wolfgang Kohlhaase.” DEFA:
East German Cinema, 1946-1992.
Seán Allan and John Sandford, eds.
New York: Berghahn, 1999. 93-116.
Kohlhaase, Wolfgang. “DEFA:
A Personal View.” DEFA: East
German Cinema, 1946-1992. Seán
Allan and John Sandford, eds. New
York: Berghahn, 1999. 117-130.
- - - . “Some Remarks about GDR Cinema.” Studies in GDR Culture and Society, 7.
Selected Papers from the Twelfth New Hampshire Symposium on the German
Democratic Republic. Margy
Gerber, ed. Lanham, MD: UPs of America, 1987. 1-6.
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