Can Dialectics Break Bricks Cinema: Divided Heaven (Konrad Wolf, 1964), GDR series

Sunday 11 September 2022, Can Dialectics Break Bricks Cinema: Divided Heaven / Der geteilte Himmel (GDR series), 1964 adaptation of Christa Wolf’s novel by Konrad Wolf, 109 minutes, in German with English subtitles. Doors open at 20:00, film starts at 20:30.

This film is part of the GDR / Why Women Had Better Sex under Socialism series

Based on the famous novel by Christa Wolf about two lovers who are torn apart as the Berlin Wall is about to be constructed, dividing the country in two. Rita has a lover, but over the course of their relationship it becomes clear they have different political points of view. The movie is great in laying out excellent arguments for both sides… the socialist East Bloc and the consumer-orientated West.

The film embraces the structure of the novel, which begins with a woman waking up in a hospital, and through flashbacks, recounts the recent events that got her there. This wild structure matches well with the film’s French New Wave feel. It is often quite experimental – using angular photography and scenes overlapping between the present moment and the past. The cinematography is crystalline, with an endless array of exquisitely composed black-and-white images. The soundtrack is also bold, with an experimental electronic music score giving the story a modern, ‘in transition’ sort of mood.

It makes sense that since each character is a different gender, they make different decisions. In the West men are in control and have more advantages… and Rita stays in the East where there was much more gender equality. But the real argument is much more than that, it is more about if a person should fight for a cause, or just live as easy as possible.

Film night at Joe’s Garage, cozy cinema! Free entrance. You want to screen a movie, let us know: joe [at] lists [dot] squat [dot] net

Can Dialectics Break Bricks Cinema: I was Nineteen (Konrad Wolf, 1968)

Sunday 1st October 2017, Can Dialectics Break Bricks Cinema: I was Nineteen (Ich war neunzehn). Directed by Konrad Wolf. 1968, 115 minutes. In German with English subtitles. Doors open at 8.30, film starts 9pm. Free admission.

Here we dive into East German cinema, which in the 50s and 60s was often actually better than the movies peddled in West Germany! This one is a coming-of-age movie about a teenager in the chaotic insanity of the second world war. The narrative was put together from director Konrad Wolf’s own diaries and personal memories. This moody gem is a searing and intimate life story of a boy whose family left Germany for Russia when he was eight, and later finds himself confronted with the ironic situation of fighting his own people (the Germans) in World War II. We follow him as a young Russian soldier in a squadron that is making its way to Berlin in the final days of the war.

This is a masterpiece of East German cinema, which is not as much concerned with following the logic of war as it is with the weird situations that our main character encounters. There are moments that are chaotic, unpredictable, often senseless, bordering on the surreal, and you find dragged through one amazing, bizarre situation after another. It is a rough journey, sometimes even terrifying, but compared to its Hollywood/Spielberg counterparts this movie is devastatingly poetic and meditative. My god, what has happened to aspects like poetry and mood in movies? In any case, this film has them both still intact. Plus, it of course it offers us a very different view of history than what is depicted here in the West. The b&w cinematography is riveting and helps to create the meditative atmosphere of this beautifully crafted East German DEFA film.

Film night at Joe’s Garage, cozy cinema! Doors open at 8pm, film begins at 9pm, free entrance. You want to play a movie, let us know: joe [at] squat [dot] net