The Fiancée

(Die Verlobte)

GDR, 1980, 106 min, color/b&w
In German; English subtitles


Germany, 1934: Hella Lindau and her fiancé Hermann Reimers are members of an anti-Nazi resistance group. When they are betrayed, Hella takes the blame and is sentenced to ten years in prison for high treason. Though Hermann is not allowed to marry her, his letters and visits keep her hope alive; after she spends years in solitary confinement, he also manages to get permission for her to live and work with other prisoners. Then, nine-and-a-half years into her sentence, the Gestapo wants to interrogate Hella again; when she is brought in for questioning, she sees that Hermann has been arrested…


Two volumes of a planned autobiographical trilogy by Eva Lippold, German author and resistance fighter, inspired this internationally-acclaimed film. With its nuanced sense of character and exploration of the psychological experience of extreme duress, the directors reframed East Germany’s antifascist film genre.


Two volumes of a planned autobiographical trilogy by German author and resistance fighter Eva Lippold served as the inspiration for this internationally- acclaimed film. With their nuanced sense of character and exploration of the psychological experience of extreme duress, directors Günter Reisch and Günther Rücker reframed East Germany’s antifascist film genre.


2013 Awarded!, Gene Siskel Film Center, Chicago, USA
2001 Retrospective: The Divided Heaven, Film Archive Austria
1988 GDR Film Week at the Filmoteca Espanola, Madrid, Spain
1988 GDR Film Week at the Cineteca Nacional Mexico
1987 Insights, Duisburger Akzente, West Germany
1984 New Directors/New Films, MoMA, New York
1983 New Films from East Germany, Stockholm, Sweden
1982 Main Prize, GDR National Feature Film Festival, Karl-Marx-Stadt
1982 Best Cinematography (Jürgen Brauer), GDR National Feature Film Festival, Karl-Marx-Stadt
1982 Best Editor (Erika Lehmphul), GDR National Feature Film Festival, Karl-Marx-Stadt
1982 Best Scenography (Dieter Adam), GDR National Feature Film Festival, Karl-Marx-Stadt
1982 Best Actress (Jutta Wachowiak), GDR National Feature Film Festival, Karl-Marx-Stadt
1982 Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Käthe Reichel), GDR National Feature Film Festival, Karl-Marx-Stadt
1982 Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Rolf Ludwig), GDR National Feature Film Festival, Karl-Marx-Stadt
1981 Viennale, Vienna International Film Festival, Austria
1981 Nominated for Gold Hugo, Chicago International Film Festival
1981 First Prize for Most Popular Film, Sydney International Film Festival
1981 Virgin of Benalmadena Prize, Benalmadena Iternational Film Authors' Week, Spain
1981 Best Film of the Year 1980, Critics' Prize of the Theory and Criticism Section of the GDR Association of Film and Television Professionals
1980 Crystal Globe Grand Prix, Karlovy Vary International Film Festival
1980 East Germany’s official submission for the 53th Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film
1980 National Prize, Class 1 (Regimantas Adomaitis, Jürgen Brauer, Eva Lippold, Günter Reisch, Günther Rücker, Jutta Wachowiak)

Press comments

"As harrowing as it is beautiful, a superbly articulated drama with an absolutely stunning performance from its star, Jutta Wachowiak."  —Kevin Thomas, Los Angeles Times


“Movingly played by Jutta Wachowiak! Credits in every category a strong plus!”  —Variety


“A new departure of DEFA’s antifascist genre.  —Daniela Berghahn, Screening War: Perspectives of German Suffering


“The film is powerful because of its undisguised honesty! It shows a piece of German history from an unusual angle.” —Heinz Kersten, So viele Träume


"The performing of the leading actress is outstanding!"  —Lexikon des Internationalen Films


"As quietly well acted as the leading role is by Jutta Wachowiak, and as serious as the film is most of the time, it is also surprisingly shrill."  —The New York Times


“An outstandingly acted, multilayered production! The deeply moving destiny of a woman.”  —


“The moving ‘passion narrative’ of a vulnerable but brave, weak yet unyielding woman caught in the cogs of the Third Reich’s prison system. The film is a powerful and heroic women’s film, as well as a prison and love story. Most notably, the film is also a remarkable exploration of emotional worlds. —


“Rare documentary sequences, incorporated into the film, show the rise and fall of the Nazi Reich and give the story historical and social context. —Günther Agde, Filmspiegel 20/1980


“The significance of the film lies in the fact that it places its heroine in both fundamental and extreme situations, in which the physical and psychological power of a human being is challenged by what is beyond bearing, speaking and representation.”  —Klaus Wischnewski, Film und Fernsehen, 10/1980



Buy the DVDStream
DVD Bonus Features:
  • New digitally restored transfer
  • Biographies & Filmographies
  • The Fiancée: Antifascist Resistance Film and Love Story,” by media scholar Lutz Haucke  
  • “Reisch, Rücker and The Fiancée,” by filmmaker Jörg Foth
  • Jutta Wachowiak: On Making the Film (2013, dir. Gunther Scholz, 62 min., color)
  • “Prisoner 47 and Author Eva Lippold,” by historians Gabriele Hackl and Birgit Sack
  • “The Women in Waldheim Prison,” by historian Gabriele Hackl
  • “Capturing the Essence: Still Photographer Waltraut Pathenheimer,” by cinematographer and photographer Dieter Chill and cultural history and media scholar Anna Luise Kiss

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