The Wall

(Die Mauer)

GDR, 1990, 98 min, color/b&w
In German; English and other subtitles


A poetic and enigmatic documentary by painter and filmmaker Jürgen Böttcher, who relies on sight and sound to contemplate the Berlin Wall's historic and symbolic significance. 


This unconventional documentary highlights the Berlin Wall, its last days and its highly anticipated destruction. Both seemingly banal and historical moments are captured and presented without verbal commentary.


On the broken-down Wall, memorable motion-picture footage is projected – from Emperor Wilhelm's ride through the Brandenburg Gate, to the torch-lit procession of the Nazis, to footage of an East German soldier jumping over barbed wire as the Wall is being built and the fall of the Wall. The images are shown with a painter's sensitivity, shot against the acoustic backdrop of construction equipment, curious masses of people and a relentless media. This masterpiece reflects the soul of Berlin in that moment.


Part of the series WENDE FLICKS: Last Films from East Germany.


1991 FIPRESCI Prize, Berlin International Film Festival
1991 Special Mention – Best Documentary, European Film Festival

Press comments

"A poetic and enigmatic documentary."
— Hammer Museum, Los Angeles


"Die Mauer is like a meditation with many brilliant moments."
— Stefan Reinecke in the Berlin Freitag on Dec. 7, 1990


"Shown with a painter's sensitivity, this masterpiece reflects the soul of Berlin."
— Vienna International Film Festival


"Böttcher, who has often made his mark as a painter too, does not content himself with an ongoing reportage - from when the Wall was built right up to point of tearing down the monstrosity. Rather, he seeks to blend atmospheric and historical elements, takes pains to take original shots (we encounter Böttcher the fine artist again and again) and to create total tableaux of optical impressions around Brandenburg Gate."
— Volker Baer in the Berlin Tagesspiegel on Feb. 19, 1991


"It invites us to contemplate. We can all relate the long images to our own experience and emotions, in particular, when Boettcher hits on the brilliant idea to have black-and-white documentary footage of 1961 projected onto the crumbling 'protective wall'."
— Ralf Schenk in the Berlin Wochenpost, 50/1990


"A real must for anyone who wants to relive the exciting period of the Eastern European revolution once again by looking at the Berlin Wall."
— International Film Festival Rotterdam


"The Wall captures the process of this world-famous icon of the Cold War turning into a world-famous tourist attraction."
— Goethe-Institut Australia


"A total tableaux of optical impressions around the Brandenburg Gate."
— Tagesspiegel


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DVD Bonus Features:
  • English, Spanish, French, Russian, Chinese, Italian, Hebrew, Turkish, and German subtitles
  • Turn Subtitles On/Off

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