The Seventh Year

(Das siebente Jahr)

GDR, 1968, 83 min, b&w
In German; English subtitles
Set Design
Costume Design
Music (Score)
Production Company


Shortly before her seventh wedding anniversary, a heart surgeon doubts her ability to keep up with the double burden of career and home. Although the couple lives a comfortable life, they are searching for a different kind of happiness in their marriage.


Dr. Barbara Heim (Jessy Rameik) and Günter Heim (Wolfgang Kieling), a well-known actor, are both dedicated to their demanding careers, putting a strain on their marriage and causing Barbara to plunge into a crisis shortly before their seventh wedding anniversary. When a child dies at the hospital, Barbara begins to question her career choices and worries that Günter compares her to other women. Her friends and co-workers help her recognize that her responsibility and passion at work are part of what makes her such a valuable person and this gives her the strength to fight for her personal happiness.


This complex portrait of a female character involves an excursion into her meaningful, demanding and conflict-laden life which revolves around the best possible compromise between career and the family, their demands and her capacity to fulfill them.



The film is also available for a Digital Site License for educational partners. Please find more information here.


2015 Film Festival Sex, Gender & Videotape: Love, Eroticism and Romance and East Germany, Amherst, USA
1975 DEFA retrospective, Museum of Modern Art, New York, USA

Press comments

“Using an unique, doubly structured narration—a chapter division into seven days and a self-reflexive voiceover by the main character—The Seventh Year deals with themes such as gender equality, potential conflicts between public and private life, and the interplay between science and art. The cinematic portrayal of working women, also in academic positions, corresponded to the social conditions in the GDR, where all women were employed. Numerous DEFA films from the late 1960s onwards discussed the clash between the demands of work and private life for working women, which primarily meant the double burden of working on the one hand and managing the household and raising children on the other: the protagonist in Vogel's film also sums up the split between a working Barbara and a family Barbara. […] Despite the seriousness of the discussed topics, Vogel succeeds in making a fresh, light-hearted film.”   —Mirko Wiermann,


“Not an ‘optimistic’ film from the GDR, but a skeptical review of professional and family problems, reflecting without embellishment on the excessive demands of certain professions and the double burden of a working wife and mother. A remarkable socio-political contribution, brilliant acting (Wolfgang Kieling).”   —


The Seventh Year was one of the first GDR feature films to address the double burden of working women.”   —Berlin-Film-Katalog


“Roland Gräf's documentary-observational camerawork often blurs the boundaries between reality and fiction. Vogel's Don’t Think, I’ll Cry (GDR 1965/90) was banned after the 11th Plenum of the Central Committee of the SED in 1965. Only with The Seventh Year he was able to make another artistically unique film. Critics praised Jessy Rameik's incisive performance; Wolfgang Kieling […] played his alter ego.”   —Arsenal Berlin, film series Filmspotting


"With The Seventh Year, a DEFA contemporary film has been in the cinemas again for a long time, whose conscious artistic description of our everyday life is striking. A film that wants to make something of the poetry of this everyday life resonate, that creates a multifaceted mosaic of the development of socialist personalities. It is by far the most artistically mature expression of director Frank Vogel and a film that is also remarkable on an international scale."   —Günter Sobe, Berliner Zeitung


"Roland Graf's camera work is excellent: the dramatic principle of the film, to show repetitions of daily routines, of work processes, is not conceived as a scheme, but is loosely varied through changing shots. The film is very close to a documentary: showing Berlin's streets and people."   —Helmut Ulrich, Neue Zeit


“The director observes the marriage crisis with great sensitivity, showing the difficulties that work and family bring with them. The film is very personal. Frank Vogel can speak from his own experience, as his wife was a surgeon herself. The film is considered by many critics to be the director's best work. This is because it merges into a conflict-laden psychogram of people whose desire is to fulfill themselves in society, but who often come up against their own or social limits.”   —Ines Walk,




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