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DEFA/First Run
84 min., in German w/ English subtitles
Not rated, DVD

This 1949 East German film by Wolfgang Staudte (The Murderers are Among Us) was
unusual for its time – too unusual, in fact, for Communist censors, who removed it from
distribution for years.  Set at the beginning of the Hitler era, Rotation focuses on a mechanic
named Hans who considers joining the Nazi Party because it can offer him greater financial benefit.  Yet politics is not his forte – Hans helps anti-Nazi friends print leaflets after Hitler secures
power, but naively makes no secret of his participation, which is discovered by his son Hellmuth,
a member of the Hitler Youth, who then willingly betrays his father to the police. Rotation is a powerful
film not only for its dissection of a family racked by internal strife, but also for its willingness – remember,
this is East Germany, circa 1949 – to address the anti-Semitic campaigns that fueled Nazi policies (Hans’
Jewish neighbors are gradually forced to abandon their homes and jobs while he looks on helplessly),
providing valuable insight into the conflicted German mindset during this tumultuous era. DVD extras
include newsreel footage and an interview with film historian Christiane Mueckenberger.
Highly recommended! [Note: the 1962 East German film The Second Track is also newly available.]

P. Hall

Review reprinted from September/October 2006 issue of "Video Librarian"

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