The Lost Angel

(Der verlorene Engel)

GDR, 1966/1971, 58 min, b&w
In German; English subtitles
Assistant Director
Set Design
Costume Design
Music (Score)


August 24, 1937: a day in the life of expressionist sculptor and author Ernst Barlach (Fred Düren). Barlach lives in the small town of Güstrow, keeping to himself and wanting to steer clear of politics. On this day he learns that the Nazis have dragged his famous 1927 sculpture The Hovering Angel—which bears the features of German artist Käthe Kollwitz—out of the Güstrow Cathedral.


Barlach begins to reflect on his life of “inner emigration” and on his work, which has been either confiscated or denounced as “degenerate art” by the Nazis. Although he realizes active opposition is needed, he no longer has the strength.


In 1966, this film was banned by East German officials, who considered it “mystical,” with “existentialist interpretations of art and power.” It was released in a shortened version only in 1971.


The New York Times described the film as “a masterful re-creation of the hostile environment that the artist had to endure in the last years of his life.”

Press comments

“A masterful re-creation of the hostile environment that the artist had to endure in the last years of his life.”
The New York Times


“A remarkable snapshot of an artist’s biography, condensed to an allegorical reflection on the relationship between art and power.”
— Lexikon des Internationalen Films


“For the monologues Kirsten used authentic texts taken from Barlach’s diaries and letters.”
— Heinz Kersten, So viele Träume. DEFA-Film-Kritiken aus drei Jahrzehnten, 1996


Buy the DVDStream
DVD Bonus Features:
  • New digitally restored version
  • Turn Subtitles On/Off
  • Biographies & Filmographies
  • “Censored: The Lost Angel,” by Barbara Barlet, DEFA Foundation
  • “‘Inside and out:’ The Scenography of The Lost Angel,” by Annette Dorgerloh, Humboldt Univ. Berlin
  • “André Asriel: The Lost Angel,” by media scholar Dieter Wiedemann
  • “The Best Film Music Never Comes,” André Asriel in Conversation with Dorett Molitor (Potsdam Film Museum)
  • Ernst Barlach: Mystic of Modernity, Germany, 2006, dir. Bernd Boehm, 26 min, color/B&W
  • Excerpts from the book Ernst Barlach, photos by Bernd Boehm, 2013

Shibboleth login