Carbide and Sorrel

(Karbid und Sauerampfer)

GDR, 1963, 84 min, b&w
In German; English subtitles
Set Design
Costume Design
Music (Score)
Themes & Genres:


In the summer of 1945, Dresden factory workers send their colleague Kalle (Erwin Geschonneck) hundreds of miles north to pick up supplies. His attempts to travel through the Soviet occupation zone become a hilarious odyssey full of high jinks and misadventures. A rare classic of German film comedy!


Right after WWII, welding factory worker Karl Bluecher, nicknamed Kalle, sets out from Dresden for Wittenberge to procure carbide, which is desperately needed to re-start production in a bombed-out factory. Kalle was not chosen by chance. On one hand, his brother-in-law works at the Wittenberge carbide plant; on the other, he is a vegetarian – and so will definitely manage to find food along the road on his journey. He gets through to Wittenberge and could bring seven drums of carbide back to Dresden ... if only he had a means of transport! But his journey home becomes quite an adventure, complete with a love story, an arrest and many close calls.


Combining fast-paced humor, keen social observation and popular appeal, this film reached over a million viewers in its first three-months.


The hilarious screenplay was a lucky find for the director, as was the leading actor Erwin Geschonneck, a man whose self-confidence and laconic wit had gotten him through many ups and downs. As GDR officials often questioned humor that flouted political authority, Frank Beyer first screened this film in Moscow, where the hearty laughter of the Soviet functionaries gave the green light for a German premiere. 

Press comments

“One of the best German film comedies!”
The Oxford History of World Cinema


“An uproarious odyssey full of high jinks and misadventure!”
The Museum of Modern Art


"Giving away details of the storyline and the gags would be spoiling the fun. Besides, many of the punch-lines are so cinematographic that retelling them would prove difficult."
— Margot Schröder in the Berlin Junge Welt on Jan. 3, 1964


"A film for Erwin Geschonneck. That long face, that thin mouth - altogether that matter-of-fact dryness. Take pity on those sides of yours - they will be splitting once the joke gets to the laughing muscles!"
— Hans-Dieter Schütt in the Berlin Junge Welt on March 7, 1984


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DVD Bonus Features:
  • Turn Subtitles On/Off
  • Biographies & Filmographies
  • Trace of Memories: A Portrait of Frank Beyer
  • Original DEFA Theatrical Trailer
  • From the Series Das Stacheltier: News from the West
  • Critical Essay about the film
  • Picture Gallery

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