Jan on the Barge

(Jan auf der Zille)

GDR, 1985, 85 min, color
In German; no subtitles
Set Design
Costume Design
Music (Score)


After the police tell thirteen-year-old Jan that his communist father is wanted for murdering an SA man, the only person willing to befriend him is Max, who is involved with a resistance group. Max agrees to help Jan figure out what really happened, but during a secret antifascist meeting, Max is shot and Jan barely escapes. The only clue he has is that a man on a barge knows the whereabouts of his father. While trying to find this barge, Jan's boat sinks, but the ship owner who rescues him is a loyal Nazi. Can Jan find his father before the police find him?


Jan on the Barge is the final installment in a trilogy of historical children's films by director Helmut Dziuba, which also includes Red Ties (Rotschlipse, 1977) and When Unku was Ede's Friend (Als Unku Edes Freundin war, 1980).



1986 Blue Elephant, Essen Children's Film Festival

Press comments

"Seldom has the atmosphere of fear and threat under the Nazis been so reservedly yet so impressively conveyed as here. Seldom, too, has a film captured the environment of that time period in such authentic and coherent detail. This is also true of the psychological accuracy with which Helmut Dziuba and his co-scriptwriter Hans Albert Pederzani tell their story: sparing with words, heavily reliant on glances and gestures ... One of the best DEFA productions in a long time." 
–Heinz Kerstin, Tagesspiegel, May 11, 1986.


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