The TIMES was founded on May 17th, 75 years ago. Between 1946 and 1992 she made around 730 feature films, including many in the north of what was then the GDR. Port cities like Wismar and Rostock were often used – for activities that actually took place in Hamburg or Kiel. Of course, the north was filmed when it comes to artists like Ernst Barlach in Güstrow or Hans Fallada near Feldberg went, but also with contemporary stories that were located between the Baltic Sea coast and the Mecklenburg Lake District. Axel Seitz with a brief overview:
This is Vera, 13 years old, a smart and capable girl. She goes to school, everything she sees is brand new to her. Because she only came to this town with her mother last night, when it was already dark. And now Vera is walking through the strange city for the first time.
Dialogue from “The Troublemakers”
This strange city is Schwerin – and the film “The Troublemakers” from 1953 was only the third DEFA color film and the first color film for children. The then director of the Mecklenburg State Theater, Edgar Bennert, took on the role of school teacher. Decades later, “The Troublemakers” is a wonderful contemporary document: Schwerin with its cathedral, market and Pfaffenteich – a city that was largely spared from the war at the beginning of the 1950s is shown here.
Around 1865 Wilhelm Rabe wrote the story “Die Gänse von Bützow” with the line “Leave the geese alone, their ancestors saved the life of the Romans with their nagging.” Around 120 years later, DEFA filmed the story, which takes place in the Duchy of Mecklenburg-Schwerin at the end of the 18th century, with Rolf Hoppe in the lead role.
What’s new in the city? Has he not heard anything about the goose decree? We have to make an example against the French zeitgeist. But I’ll stay tough, tough as iron And from now on dedicate all my energy exclusively to the duchy, our beloved Mecklenburg.
“The geese from Bützow”
Ralf Kirsten shoots about Ernst Barlach
To the east of Bützow – in Güstrow – the director Ralf Kirsten made a film about the in the mid-1960s Sculptor Ernst Barlach: “The lost angel” describes a day in August 1937 after the figure “The Floating” was removed from the Güstrow Cathedral as so-called degenerate art:
– And the angel? It was intended for everyone who died in the war.
– People are dying again. Every day, beaten, tortured.
– I know the war has already started, the angel was in their way.
Dialogue from “The Lost Angel”
Just as the angel got in the way of the Nazis, the DEFA film “The Lost Angel” got in the way of the SED superiors because they saw parallels to GDR society in it. Initially, “The Lost Angel” was banned in 1966, but five years later it was still released in cinemas – abbreviated.
DEFA approached Hans Fallada
Another artist that DEFA approached was Hans Fallada. In 1987 Roland Gräf shot “Fallada – Last Chapter” in Carwitz and on the Feldberger Seenplatte with Jutta Wachowiak and Jörg Gudzuhn in the leading roles as the Fallada couple. A popular motif when filming was the Baltic Sea coast. Thus, at the end of the 1960s, the musical film “Hot Summer” with pop singers Chris Doerk and Frank Schöbel was made on Rügen.
Rostock becomes Kiel, Schwerin becomes Hamburg
When it came to historical material from the workers ‘and communist movements, Rostock also liked to turn to Kiel, as in 1958 in “The Sailor’s Song” about the sailors’ uprising on the fjord.
Ernst Thälmann came to Schwerin twice: In 1954, the Schwerin market for “From my Childhood” became the Hamburg market, which was about memories of the young Ernst Thälmann. As a communist leader, he then organized the 1923 Hamburg uprising in the DEFA film “Ernst Thälmann – Son of His Class” from 1954 in Schwerin’s old town.
Günther Simon plays Ernst Thälmann in one of DEFA’s most important propaganda productions. The two-part series, directed by Kurt Maetzig, cared little about historical facts, but rather rewrote part of German history in the spirit of the SED.
What was filmed where back then in the north of the GDR and today in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania: This is also explained in the book “Stilles Land und Großes Kino”. It was published by Hinstorff-Verlag and costs 16.99 euros.