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Rotkäppchen (Little Red Riding Hood)

1962, East Germany,  72 minutes, color
Director: Götz Friedrich
Script: Hans Rodenberg
Directors of Photography: Helmut Bergmann
Music: Gerhard Wohlgemuth
Cast:  Blanche Kommerell (Little Red Riding Hood), Helga Raumer (Mother), Horst Kube (Father), Friedel Nowack (Grandmother), Werner Dissel (Wolf), Harald Engelmann (Fox), Ernst-Georg Schwill (Bear), Jochen Bley (Bunny)
Based on the tale by the Brothers Grimm
VHS-PAL, no subtitles
- renting information

Synopsis:

Once upon a time there was a little girl named Rotkäppchen.  She lived with her father and mother at the edge of a village, and often visited her grandmother on the other side of the woods.  Her rabbit friend, Häschen, lives with Grandmother and was sent one day to fetch medicine and milk from Rotkäppchen and her mother.  Although her mother was reluctant to allow her to visit Grandmother alone, Rotkäppchen convinces her that she will be safe with Häschen.  Together they set out through the woods. 

Unfortunately, there were many distractions in the woods:  mushrooms to pick and Rotkäppchen's other playmate, the bear.  There are also the dangerous fox and wolf, who plotted to capture Rotkäppchen and eat her.  Häschen did his best to keep them safe, but he could not prevent the wolf from eating Grandmother . . . and also Rotkäppchen!  Who will save them?

The DEFA version of Rotkäppchen differs from the Grimms' version in some minor areas:  the mother plays a greater role in the film;  DEFA has the father save the day, rather than the huntsman;  the wolf does not die at the end, though he is carried away by the family; the second encounter with the wolf at the end of the original tale is left out;  and a few animal characters are added (Häschen, Bär, and das Eichhörnchen).  All the animals (other than the Eichhörnchen) are played by people in animal costumes, and Jochen Bley as Häschen was the big hit with critics and viewers alike.

Both warmly and critically received by the press upon its release, Rotkäppchen followed closely on the heels of the very successful Schneewittchen;  hence, in some cases, the disappointment.  Many reviews cited Götz Friedrich's background in theater (both in positive and negative interpretations) to explain the spare, two-dimensional feel of the set.  Yet nearly all commented positively on the color and interesting characters, and the Progress press materials summed up the morals for the viewers to learn:  "Do what you are told, but act independently when it is necessary;  never leave the path, especially the path that your friends have marked with love and experience;  be brave, fight against evil, help your friends." 

Since its release, Rotkäppchen has become one of the most popular DEFA fairy tale films.

 

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