Lotte in Weimar

(Lotte in Weimar)

GDR, 1975, 119 min, color
In German; English subtitles
Set Design
Costume Design
Music (Score)


Charlotte Kestner (played by Lilli Palmer) was the love of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s youth, who became famous as Lotte in his renowned epistolary novel, The Sorrows of Young Werther, published in 1774. After four decades, in late summer 1816, Charlotte travels to Weimar to see Goethe again. The posturing of high society she finds there and her disappointing encounter with her former love lead her to an unexpected conclusion: she no longer loves him.


This film is based on the 1939 novel Lotte in Weimar: The Beloved Return, by Nobel Prize-winning German novelist Thomas Mann. It was the first film ever to represent the GDR in competition at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival. The renowned Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra even played selections from Gustav Mahler’s Sixth Symphony contributed to the prestige production.


1975 Palm d'Or nominee, Cannes International Film Festival, France

Press comments

“The cinematographer was Erich Gusko. Whether working in color or black-and-white, Gusko brought a visual perfection to the screen that few could match.”   —Jim Morton, Lotte in Weimar, 


“The film provides an interesting case study in the cultural heritage of the GDR as it is an adaptation of the novel, which is itself a reconsideration of the Goethean tradition.”   —Robert Blankenship, Directory of World Cinema, Germany 2


“A brilliant adaptation of Thomas Mann’s novel about the reunion of Goethe and his heroine of The Sorrows of Young Werther.”   —Cinémathèque Française, 2003


“Shot partly on location in Weimar and making ample use of Mann’s description of the characters’ clothing, mannerisms, even ways of speaking—be it innkeeper Mager’s Thuringian accent or ‘Kunscht’-Meyer’s Swiss German—the film evokes vividly Weimar life in the years around 1816.”   —Dennis F. Mahoney, “Goethe Seen Anew: Egon Günther’s Film Lotte in Weimar. Goethe Yearbook, 1984.


“An ironic film adaptation of Mann’s Goethe novel that describes the disenchanted encounter between an aged Goethe and Charlotte Kestner, his early love. […] Outstanding performances opposite guest star Lilli Palmer by DEFA director Martin Hellberg, as an older Goethe, and Jutta Hoffmann as nervous Adele Schopenhauer.”   —


“Jutta Hoffman, as Adele Schopenhauer, outplayed world-renowned Lilli Palmer.” —Volker Baer, Der Tagesspiegel, 1975


“The diversity of themes and the finely woven intricacy of the film narrative’s intermeshed issues, emphases and witticisms are difficult to grasp and interpret coherently. Director Egon Günther, who also wrote the scenario, directed with a subtle, comic tone and sometimes even with culinary relish.”   —Günter Sobe, Berliner Zeitung



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