Fallada – The Last Chapter

(Fallada – Letztes Kapitel)

GDR, 1988, 100 min, color
In German; English subtitles
Set Design
Costume Design
Music (Score)


German novelist Hans Fallada lives with his family in a small, remote town. His craving for peace and harmony collides with his own inner turmoil and the growing power of the Nazis. Believing that he can stay out of politics, Fallada is conflicted when the Propaganda Ministry wants him to write an anti-Semitic work in the style of Veit Harlan’s The Ruler. He falls into a deep depression as substance abuse replaces writing. His wife Anna cares for him and endures her husband’s aggressions and infidelities. She leaves him, however, when he falls in love with the young widow Ursula. This new love briefly gives Fallada a new thirst for life, but Ursula is a morphine addict and pulls him further into the abyss. 
When the war is over, the Red Army makes Fallada mayor; but the challenges of carrying out the duties of such an unfamiliar position lead him to numb himself even further with drugs. He is filled with hope when people in the new, German-Soviet film industry encourage him to work on a story about an old couple that gets involved in anti-fascist resistance. Within four weeks, he writes his novel Every Man Dies Alone. His body has been pushed beyond its limits and he ends up in the hospital, where he dies in February 1947.


In recent years, Melville House rediscovered Hans Fallada’s works and published several of his masterpieces in English translation: Every Man Dies Alone; The Drinker; Little Man, What Now?; and Wolf among Wolves. All books received rave reviews and became bestsellers in the U.S. and the UK.


The American publishing house Melville rediscovered Hans Fallada’s masterpiece Jeder stirbt für sich allein, translated it into English for the first time as Every Man Dies Alone, and published it in 2010. The book received raving reviews and became the most acclaimed book of the year. Melville House also published Fallada’s books Little Man, What Now?Wolf among Wolves; and The Drinker, which became bestsellers in the United States.


2022 Berlin Int. Film Festival, Germany
1989 San Sebastian International Film Festival, Spain
1989 Nominee Golden Bear, Berlin Int. Film Festival, Germany 
1989 Silver Hugo for Best Actor, Chicago Int. Film Festival, for Jörg Gudzuhn, USA
1989 Golden Hugo Nominee for Best Feature Film, Chicago Int. Film Festival, USA

Press comments

"Hans Fallada’s Every Man Dies Alone is one of the most extraordinary and compelling novels ever written about World War II. Ever. Fallada lived through the Nazi hell, so every word rings true–this is who they really were: the Gestapo monsters, the petty informers, the few who dared to resist. Please, do not miss this."   —Alan Furst, American author


 “Every Man Dies Alone is the greatest book ever written about German resistance to the Nazis.” —Primo Levi, Italian author and Holocaust survivor


“Roland Gräf has made his best, most dense film ever and arrived in the ranks of the great directors.”   —Henry Goldberg, Filmspiegel, 1988


“The film is more convincing as a phychological study of the progressing decay of a personality caught between depression and aggression than as a critical portrait of an era in documentary style.” —Filmdienst


“This is a great cinematic narrative. The cinema-goers are swept along by the actors’ breathtaking portrayal of Fallada’s life in evil times and the futile hopes placed him after the war.”  —Detlef Friedrich, Berliner Zeitung


"It’s a sure sign of a classy production these days when you hear the strains of Sibelius’s Valse Triste on the soundtrack, as in East German director Roland Graef’s film based on the last, drug- and alcohol-ridden years of socialist novelist Hans Fallada. Not that there’s anything wrong with being classy, but a film such as this, a period piece carefully crafted for international festival viewing and television sales, so often has the juice drained from its subject, leaving a husk of meticulous research and superb set decoration. The centerpiece of this film is a dedicated and nuanced performance by Joerg Gudzuhn in a role that often requires him to communicate moods nonverbally and to do what a novelist does, namely sit around writing. The story is set in the late 30s, when Fallada has removed himself along with his wife and family to a remote village to avoid engagement with the Nazis, although he does a brief jail term for socialist activities. Careful is the word for this film, and while that works to its advantage in the evident pains taken with the recreation of the details of Fallada’s life, it is a disadvantage in the opaque view that it provides, offering few insights into what fueled Fallada personally or professionally. Beautifully photographed in muted light (and in color, contrary to the festival schedule listing), it gives the feeling of peering into the past."   —Chicago Reader, 1989



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