The Legend of Paul and Paula

(Die Legende von Paul und Paula)

GDR, 1972, 106 min, color
In German; English subtitles
Set Design
Costume Design
Music (Score)
Music (Performance)


Paul is unhappily married to a beautiful but ignorant woman who cheats on him. Paula, who has two children from different fathers, is in a relationship of convenience with a tire salesman. When Paula and Paul meet in a bar, they fall in love. Yet, Paul, who can never make up his mind, almost loses Paula, who blames herself when her child dies in an accident. Finally, Paul wins Paula back and their love becomes a legend in the neighborhood, intensified by a tragic twist.


Author Ulrich Plenzdorf and director Heiner Carow winningly portray everyday life in East Berlin in a passionate, but star-crossed love story. Featuring the music of the East German cult rock band, The Puhdys, the film proved so popular that official media blackouts could not keep audiences away from this cult classic.


The most popular DEFA film ever, it is a film about longings, dreams and the pursuit of individual freedom.


2018 Images of the Future: The Cinema of East Germany, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil


Press comments

"Heiner Carow directed this 'legend' - a word already suggesting a detached approach to East Berlin reality - in an imaginative and easy-going way, placing it between realtiy and imagination."
— Volker Baer in the Berlin Tagesspiegel of 18.04.1973


"We have not been spoiled with moving love stories in the cinema. Therefore my unconditional praise for this treatment of the love theme. I am all for talking about love in the appropriate sensual terms rather than having the topic rhetorically exhausted."
— Fred Gehler in the Berlin Sonntag on April 22, 1973


“[This film] shows that the 70s all over the world, even in the GDR, were the 70s.
— Jen Livingston, filmmaker, Paris Is Burning


“I knew that the film would be good. It was going to be explosive and maybe it wouldn’t make it through, but it was going to be good.”
— Ulrich Plenzdorf, scriptwriter


The Legend of Paul and Paula remains a cult favorite today.”
— The Museum of Modern Art


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DVD Bonus Features:
  • Biographies & Filmographies
  • Introduction to The Legend of Paul and Paula
  • Photo Gallery

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