Divided Heaven

(Der geteilte Himmel)

GDR, 1964, 109 min, b&w
In German; English subtitles
Set Design
Costume Design
Music (Score)


After a breakdown, Rita returns to her childhood village in 1961. As she recovers, she remembers the past two years: her love for the chemist Manfred, ten years her senior; how his enthusiasm about his new chemical process turned to bitter disappointment in the face of official rejection; how he escaped to West Berlin a few weeks before the Wall was built and hoped that she would follow him...


Divided Heaven is based on Christa Wolf's internationally-renowned novel, which was criticized in the GDR for questioning the construction of the Wall. Produced during a brief cultural thaw in the early 1960s, this film was strongly influenced by the French Nouvelle Vague.


This East German classic is praised by critics as one of Germany's 100 Most Important Films.


Feinstein, Joshua. The Triumph of the Ordinary: Depictions of Daily Life in the East German Cinema. Chapel Hill and London: North Carolina UP, 2002.


2023 Retrospective Six Decades – Six Iconic Films, Hong Kong
2021 FilmFestival Cottbus, Germany
2020 Retrospective Beyond the Wall: East German Cinema, Entrevues Belfort International Film Festival, France

Press comments

“Konrad Wolf’s DEFA classic is one of the most important filmic debates about the German-German division until this day.”   —3sat TV


Divided Heaven clearly [reflects] the rich stylistic currents that characterized European filmmaking in the early ‘sixties.”   —Joshua Feinstein, The Triumph of the Ordinary


“Images of strict and restrained (black and white) beauty.”   —Süddeutsche Zeitung


Divided Heaven, is not only a historical-political artefact, it is also a noteworthy aesthetic work. […] The film also uses metaphorical shots of bridges and trains, montage, flashback, and other techniques that put it in line with international art cinema at the time, but also caused it to be controversial in the GDR.”   —Robert Blankenship, Directory of World Cinema, Germany 2


"Idealists and cynics, staying and leaving, love and duty, we and I. Clashing, through gallows humor and visual poetry. A modern ode to 'broken generations' everywhere."   —Clarence Tsui, film critic, retrospective Six Decades – Six Iconic Films, 2023


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