Castles and Cottages

(Schlösser und Katen)

GDR, 1957, 195 min, b&w
In German; English subtitles
Set Design
Costume Design
Music (Score)
Special Effects


This two-part epic traces the development of a manor and farm in Mecklenburg, from the flight of its aristocratic landowners before the advancing Soviet troops in 1945, to just after the East German uprising of June 17, 1953, by which time it has become an agricultural cooperative. Powerful stories and images take place in a context of historical events.


The story revolves around Annegret (Karla Runkehl), a peasant girl who is to go study to become an agronomist in the new order – and who is also the illegitimate daughter of the former lord of the manor, who raped her mother. The anarchic, yet optimistic chaos of the postwar years, the sometimes petty and personal nature of the political conflicts, and the rough edges displayed by even the heroes precludes this from being a purely dogmatic socialist-realist film.


Nevertheless, Castles and Cottages represents the filmic cornerstone of the GDR's foundation myth, as well as the enduring official explanation for the June 17 uprising—namely, that it was a planned attack on GDR by the West on "Day X."


Two-DVD set:

  • Part 1: Crooked Anton
  • Part 2: Annegret's Homecoming

Press comments

“KuBa has deserved full marks for their inner truth and persuasive power of his story, for the authenticity of his figures and his courage to set political aims devoid of any clichés or standard solutions. The scenario is ideally realized by Kurt Maetzig's direction and Otto Merz' camerawork.”
— Christoph Funke in the Berlin Morgen on Feb. 8, 1957


“A slice of history is presented to today's viewers in pictures. Historical events are back grounded; in the forefront, there are the radical changes which take place in people who are confronted with new living conditions.”
— S. Jagst in the Dresden Sächsisches Tageblatt on April 25, 1984


Buy the DVDStream
DVD Bonus Features:
  • Turn Subtitles On/Off
  • Introductory Essay
  • Photo Gallery
  • Biographies & Filmographies
  • Timeline of Postwar Transformation
  • Land Reform in Eastern Germany
  • Eyewitness: Newsreels about the Filmmakers

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