GDR, 1986, 2 min, color
Music (Score)
Themes & Genres:


An ice cream vendor sports a gas mask as he tries to sell to a swarm of cars. The cars continue on their way, smoking with exhaust. A driver coughs, then his neighbor, then the animals in the forest, the trees, and finally the Earth itself begins to cough. The film-within-a-film ends, and the viewers rush back outside – into their cars.


This short film is available for purchase or streaming as part of the collection Animation Before Unification: 16 Shorts from East Germany.


Although the East German government introduced ambiguous environmental laws as of its founding in 1949, its ideals could not be fulfilled in tandem with the country’s economic growth plans and budget restrictions. Over the next decades, environmental problems increased to such an extent that the government classified all kinds of environmental data as “confidential” in 1972 and “secret” in 1982. At the end of the 1970s, the first grassroots environmental groups were founded, and the growing ecological movement became critical in drawing public attention to increasingly disastrous environmental problems. The activities of these groups were closely watched, infiltrated or stopped by the Stasi. In 1986, the Chernobyl nuclear disaster and the founding of the East Berlin Umweltbibliothek were turning points in the increasingly political environmental movement, which became a crucial player during the peaceful revolution of 1989. 


The DEFA Studios produced many environmental films that followed the official party line. However, the growing public environmental awareness was also reflected in some films. Several documentaries, animation and feature films touched on environmental issues and questioned the officially promoted environmental situation. These films, especially the animation films, are sharp and satirical discussion of taboo topics, including forest damage and air and water pollution. Other films deal critically with problems caused by brown coal mining, including the resettling of villages. But these film projects were a red flag for the studio officials, and scripts and rough cuts went through extensive and complicated approvals.



Consequence is a short film with an unflinching environmental message. The far-reaching damage caused by air pollution is communicated with muted colors, scenes of nature, and a pervasive cough.

Director Klaus Georgi ironically comments on human apathy to environmental harm with this ending, and at the same time calls the true audience to task: if we are apathetic, the planet will face the consequences.


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