1963, East Germany (DEFA), b/w, 109 min. English subtitles
Dir.: Konrad Wolf
Script: Christa Wolf
Camera: Werner Bermann
Music: Hanns-Dieter Hosalla
Cast: Renate Blume, Eberhard Esche, Hans
Hardt-Hardtloff, Hilmar Thate
16mm, English subtitles - renting information
Produced during the brief
cultural thaw in the early 1960s, this film was strongly influenced by Resnais'
Hiroshima mon amour in its form and its exploration of the dangerous
quest for a female identity against the backdrop of momentous historical events,
in this case the building of the Berlin Wall.
Christa Wolf's work on this adaptation of her novel, with its bold
cinematic with narrative fragmentation, also influenced her ground-breaking
novel from the same period, The Quest for Christa T.
This film anticipated by one year the numerous films banned in 1965 for
being too much influenced by the "decadent" new waves of the West, and
disappeared with them into the archives.
Greeted by the Süddeutsche Zeitung
as "perhaps the best German film since the war," the rediscovery of this film in
the context of German unification prompted a Western television journalist to
claim, "The New German Cinema happened first at DEFA.”
On October 20, 1925 Konrad Wolf was born in
Hechingen. His father, Friedrich
Wolf, was a prominent doctor as well as a writer, known especially for his
anti-fascist activism. Because of Friedrich Wolf’s political activities, the
family went into exile in 1934. In
March of that year, they settled in Moscow. Konrad and his brother Markus
attended the German Karl-Liebknecht-School in Moscow. In 1936 the Wolf family became citizens of the Soviet Union. In December of 1942, at 17 years of age,
Konrad voluntarily enlisted in the Red Army.
In January he was sent to the front, where he served primarily as an
interpreter. He took part in the
liberation of Warsaw in 1945 and was later awarded the Red Star for his military
service. After the war ended, Wolf
worked for the Berliner Zeitung as a
reporter of local news and took part in the founding of DEFA. In 1954 Wolf began
his career as a director with DEFA.
Over the course of this career, he directed numerous films and became
internationally renowned for his work, especially his anti-fascist films.
Wolf took over the position of President of the Academy of Arts in 1965, a post
that he held for 17 years. He died
on March 7, 1982 before completing his final film
Busch Singt. He received numerous awards for his
filmmaking, such as the Karlovy Vary Grand Prize for
Lissy in 1957, the Special prize of
the Jury at Cannes 1959 for Sterne, and Prize for the Arts of the Society
for German-Soviet Friendship for
Sonnensucher and Ich war neunzehn
Einmal ist keinmal (1954/55),
Genesung (1956), Lissy (1957),
Professor Mamlock (1960/61),
Der geteilte Himmel (1963/64), Der
kleine Prinz (1966), Ich war neunzehn
(1968), Goya (1971),
Der nackte Mann auf dem Sportplatz (1974),
Mama, ich lebe (1977), Solo
Sunny (1980), Busch singt (1982).
Byg, Barton. “History, Mourning and Theories of
Der geteilte Himmel and
Hiroshima mon amour. Ms.
Currently available in
DEFA Film Criticism in English: An Anthology. University of Massachusetts Amherst,
DEFA Film Library, 1999.
- - - . “Konrad Wolf: From Anti-Fascism to
Studies in GDR Culture and Society, 5: Selected Papers from the Tenth New
Hampshire Symposium on the German Democratic Republic. Margy Gerber, ed.
S. “Paths of Discovery: The Films of Konrad Wolf.” DEFA:
East German Cinema, 1946-1992.
Seán Allan and John Sandford, eds.
New York: Berghahn, 1999. 164-182.
Joyce, Steven. “The Politics of Love: Ideology and
Romance in Christa Wolf's Der geteilte Himmel.” New German Studies. 13.1 (Spring
Silberman, Marc. “Remembering History: The Filmmaker Konrad Wolf.” New German Critique 49 (Winter
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