The Tango Player

(Der Tangospieler)

GDR, 1990, 96 min, color
In German; English subtitles
Set Design
Costume Design
Music (Score)


Disenchanted and angry, Dr. Dallow has been released after 21 months in prison for playing piano in a “subversive” cabaret program. He refuses the Stasi offer to "help" him get his university position back in exchange for becoming an informant. He lives in increasing isolation and despair as he tries to deal with the hypocritical social system and the injustice done to him. Things change after Soviet tanks roll into Prague in August 1968.


The film features several exceptional actors and is part of the series WENDE FLICKS: Last Films from East Germany, which premiered at LACMA and other Los Angeles venues in 2009.


The film—with original footage from the '68 invasion in Prague—is based on Christoph Hein's novella that first broached two taboos in East German literature: the Stasi and Soviet repression of the Prague Spring.


1991 German Film Prize in Silver for Best Film 
1991 German Film Prize in Gold for Best Actor (Michael Gwisdek)
1991 1st Prize Golden Rosa Camuna, Bergamo International Film Festival

Press comments

"The Tango Player offers a moody portrait of East German life in the late 1960's." —The New York Times


Buy the DVDStream
DVD Bonus Features:
  • Turn Subtitles On/Off
  • Biographies & Filmographies
  • "In Prison, Something Like a Future," by John Lessard (Univ. of the Pacific)
  • Director Roland Gräf and Film Historian Michael Hanisch in Conversation (2001, 12 min.)
  • Podcast: Author Christoph Hein on His Novella The Tango Player (1989, 13 min.)
  • Prague Spring, 1968: Timeline
  • Original Trailer

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