The construction of the Berlin Wall on August 13, 1961, was a pivotal break in German history and had to be justified in movies produced by East Germany's DEFA studio. The 2-disc DVD set presents for the first time films by reknowned directors that tried to address topical events. Two of the films even include documentary footage shot in the summer of 1961.
... und deine Liebe auch - East-Germany 1962 - Directed by: Frank Vogel - Written by: Paul Wiens - Cinematography by: Günter Ost - Music by: Hans-Dieter Hosalla - Cast: Urich Thein, Armin Mueller-Stahl, Kati Szekely, Katharina Lind, Alfonso Arau - Produced by: DEFA-Studio für Spielfilme, Babelsberg - Premiere: 27 September 1962
Sonntagsfahrer - East-Germany 1963 - Directed by: Gerhard Klein - Written by: Karl Georg Egel, Wolfgang Kohlhaase - Cinematography by: Helmut Bergmann - Music by: Wilhelm Neef - Cast: Harald Helgardt, Herwart Grosse, Irene Korb, Erich Gerberding, Ellinor Vogel, Angelica Domröse - Produced by: DEFA-Studio für Spielfilme, Babelsberg - Premiere: 30 August 1963
Schaut auf diese Stadt - East-Germany 1962 - Directed and written by: Karl Gass - Commentary by: Karl-Eduard von Schnitzler - Photographed by: Hans Dumke, Hans-Eberhard Leupold - Music by: Jean Kurt Forest - Produced by: DEFA-Studio für Dokumentarfilme, Berlin - Premiere: 13 August 1962
Materna - East-Germany 1967 - Directed by: Frank Vogel - Written by: Werner Bräunig, Frank Vogel - Cinematography by: Claus Neumann - Music by: Günter Hauk - Cast: Urich Theiß, Angelika Waller, Johannes Wieke, Werner Dissel, Rank Reckslack, Winfried Glatzeder - Produced by: DEFA-Studio für Spielfilme, Babelsberg - Premiere: 9 June 1967
Der große und der kleine Willi - East-Germany 1967 - Directed by: Gerhard Klein - Written by: Helmut Baierl, Gerhard Klein - Cinematography by: Peter Krause - Music by: Wilhelm Neef - Cast: Erwin Geschonneck, Jaecki Schwarz, Christoph Engel, Rudolf Ulrich, Ernst-Georg Schwill - Produced by: DEFA-Studio für Spielfilme, Babelsberg - Premiere: 9 June 1967
About the production of the films
1960-61: At the DEFA Studio for newsreels and documentaries, director Karl Gass considers shooting a feature-length documentary about West Berlin, the "perpetual hotbed of provocation," "thorn in the side of the GDR" and "threat to world peace." In the summer of 1961, he assigns his cinematographer Hans Dumke to shoot suitable footage. Among other things, Dumke films troop movements of the Western allied forces on the transit highway between West Germany (Federal Republic of Germany) and West Berlin. West German colleagues working for DEFA are also ordered to shoot footage for the project.
Summer 1961: Karl Gass is closely involved in reviewing the footage for his West Berlin film project and thinking about its structure. As part of the process, he screens international archive and newsreel footage, primarily from the period between 1945 and 1961. Roman Karmen has pre-selected much of the footage from the archives of the Central Studio for Documentary Film in Moscow, such as sequences from the first session of the Berlin military command after World War II.
August 13, 1961: Construction of the Berlin Wall begins. The western part of the city is hermetically sealed off from the East. Freedom of travel to and from West Berlin is interrupted. There is no military intervention from the Western powers. The East German government calls the wall an "antifascist democratic bulwark." On the day the Wall is erected, Karl Gass goes on summer vacation to Bulgaria. For Gass, an unintended consequence of the construction of the wall is that it provides the focal point for his long-planned West Berlin film. The project, SCHAUT AUF DIESE STADT (LOOK AT THIS CITY), can now be bluntly used as propaganda to justify the Wall.
August 13, 1962: East Germany mounts a major propaganda offensive to promote the premiere of Karl Gass' documentary SCHAUT AUF DIESE STADT on the first anniversary of the construction of the Wall. English, French, and Spanish versions are made at the same time as the German original. SCHAUT AUF DIESE STADT is screened in East German foreign missions. In the East Berlin daily "Junge Welt," the director discusses how he wants his film "to provide workers, intellectuals and artists from many countries with accurate information about a city that has so often been the focus of global attention, and to demonstrate the necessity and urgency of the call by the governments of the Soviet Union and the GDR for the creation of a free West Berlin." (8/2/1962)
September 27, 1962: The first narrative film about the construction of the Wall, ... UND DEINE LIEBE AUCH (...AND YOUR LOVE TOO, working title: BEI UNS WHERE WE LIVE) premieres in Berlin. Shot without a screenplay, a shooting schedule, or an estimated budget, the sole basis of its unusual development was an eleven-page memo from mid-August 1961: "We will film our story as it happens, in sync with history, in its real temporal, local, and personal environment; on the streets and in the buildings of Berlin, at meetings, in the squares and parks, at the light bulb factory, on Warschau Bridge, at 'Aktivist', at a post office, in a workers' combat group, at the border, etc. Only our three main characters will be played by actors. Everyone else in the film is what s/he is in life. To the extent that they actively participate in the action, they will be playing themselves, in their real social positions, at their actual workplaces, in their own homes. They will express their own opinions without mincing words and behave as they do (or would do) in the same situation in reality. Principal photography must begin before the end of August. Location shooting will be completed by late 1961 . . . we will begin shooting in the studio in early January 1962." Although the projected total cost of the project was about 677,000, the film ends up costing only 574,200 marks. After the premiere, reviews appear with headlines like "With a Poet's Heart« (Neues Deutschland), »People at Our Side« (Sonntag), or "Love Letter to Berlin" (Deutsche Filmkunst).
August 30, 1963: Shot from 6/20-12/17/1962 on a budget of 1,582,000 marks, the DEFA film SONNTAGSFAHRER (SUNDAY DRIVER) premieres at Berlin's Babylon cinema. The magazine film Wissen schaftliche Mitteilungen publishes excerpts from the screenplay.
DVD features (2-disc DVD set)
- ... und deine Liebe auch 1962, 89'
- Schaut auf diese Stadt 1962, 81'
- Booklet with essays by Ralf Schenk and Stefan Drössler
- Sonntagsfahrer 1963, 84'
- Materna 1967, 15'
- Der große und der kleine Willi 1967, 32'
Edited by: Filmmuseum München, DEFA-Stiftung and Goethe-Institut München
DVD authoring: Tobias Dressel
DVD supervision: Stefan Drössler
First edition March 2015, Second edition December 2018