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Die Mutter (Mother)

1958, 147 min., b/w,
Director: Manfred Wekwerth
Cinematography: Harry Bremer
Screenplay: Käthe Rülicke-Weiler, Manfred Wekwerth, Harry Bremer, Isot Kilian
Editor: Ella Ensink
Sound: Kurt Wolfram, Rolf Rolke
Cast: Helene Weigel, Fred Düren, Erich Franz, Fritz Hollenbeck, Günter Naumann, Helga Raumer, Norbert Christian
Produced by the DEFA Studio for Newsreels and Documentary Films, on behalf of the Berliner Ensemble.
16mm, English subtitles
- renting information


Bertolt Brecht’s grand epic of political theater, written in 1931, is an adaptation of Maxim Gorki’s novel by the same title. It tells the moving story of an oppressed Russian woman who is transformed into a militant revolutionary. The original production, written for the Berliner Ensemble, was condemned by Stalinist critics as “formalist” and “politically harmful,” although it was hugely popular. Filmed by DEFA, this production – directed after Brecht’s death by Manfred Wekwerth – retains much of Brecht’s original cast, with a landmark performance by Helene Weigel in the title role.

About the Director

Manfred Wekwerth, acclaimed Brecht disciple and director of Brecht’s plays, was born in Köthen in 1929. He belonged to an amateur theater group, when Bertolt Brecht discovered him and offered him a position as an assistant director at the famous Berliner Ensemble in 1951. Only two years later he directed his first production there. After Brecht’s death, Wekwerth became the senior director of the Berliner Ensemble. He first began filming in order to document some of the Brecht productions at the Berliner Ensemble. Wekwerth left the Berliner Ensemble from 1969 to 1977 over disagreements with Brecht’s widow, Helene Weigel, but then returned to manage the theater until 1991. He was also the president of the East German Academy of Arts for almost a decade and the director of the Institute for Directing in Berlin. Since German unification he has continued to direct for various German theaters.


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