Against the Mainstream: Lutz Dammbeck's Animated Works

GDR, n/a, 75 min, color
In German; English subtitles
Themes & Genres:


Starting in 1975, Lutz Dammbeck worked as a freelance artist for the state-owned East German DEFA Studios. By 1986, when he left the GDR for West Germany, he had directed a total of six shorts for DEFA. These groundbreaking animation films differed in style and content from the studios’ other animation productions; controversial at the time, they are now part of international animation history. This streaming playlist includes the six DEFA animation films:


The Flood Die Flut , GDR, 1986, 10 min., color, no dialog

When a storm gathers, two men on an island decide to build a boat. While one is mindful of the coming danger and urges speed, the other wastes his time on decorative details. 


The Discovery Die Entdeckung, GDR, 1982, 18 min., color
A bumblebee is tired of her daily routine and needs an adventure! She flies to the place of her dreams. This cartoon was a hit in GDR cinemas. Older viewers, however, saw it as a metaphor for their longing to escape their daily life or even their country. 


Einmart Einmart , GDR, 1981, 15 min., color
With its rich visual world inspired by Buñuel and Tarkowsky, Einmart was both controversi- al among officials, and set unprecedented standards in GDR animation. 


The Tailor of Ulm Der Schneider von Ulm, GDR, 1979, 15 min., color
This film is based on apoem by Bertolt Brecht. The idea of flying, which Dammbeck uses here for the first time, reappears in his next films. It’s the first example of the director’s experimental and surrealistic style of animation. 


Live! Lebe!, GDR, 1978, 11 min., color, no dialog
This short film traces the story of a man from birth to old age. The magical dreams of his youth sometimes appear, but daily routine quickly takes over. His striving for material wealth leads him to betray his youthful ideals. 


The Moon Der Mond, GDR, 1975, 6 min., color, no dialog
The moon swirls happily around until it falls out of the sky. A dragon drags it into a cave and forces it to give him light, while he eats all the cakes. But the moon’s friends come up with a plan.



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