Wednesday, 14 March
DEFA series: The Legend of Paul and Paula
THE LEGEND OF PAUL AND PAULA 1972 Directed by Heiner Carow 106 minutes In German with English subtitles
There is one thing that most reviewers of Paul and Paula repeatedly conclude: If you want to get the feel of life in 70s East Germany, this is your film. And it was in fact the best known East German film ever made. This tragic comedy was based on the novel of the same name by Ulrich Plenzdorf, exploring the relationships between the sexes in the GDR. And sure enough, it turned out to be a huge hit in its own country.
This flick made a splash in several ways. The first was the depiction of the central female lead, Paula. She is a single mother with two children from different fathers, who's working a dead-end job in a supermarket. The film focuses on her affair with a rising bureaucrat named Paul. After several years of repression, this film kicked the GDR doors open again, taking the harsh everyday life of real people (a single mother) and mixing it with dream sequences, surrealism, symbolism and rock music. One viewer described it as "flower power in the GDR." And besides promoting an equality of the sexes, since Paula is a low-level worker, it also encouraged a strong disregard for class distinctions.
Right from the first scene, with the music of "Wenn ein Mensch lebt," we immediately fall into a slice-of-life kind of cinema. Paul and Paula accurately captures a world that no longer exists. And this is precisely what I mean when I say that fiction films can document what real life was like in the past better than any documentary. There is an outstanding on-screen chemistry between the lead actors Angelica Domröse and Winfried Glatzede, and the cast also features Eva-Maria Hagen (mother of the punk singer Nina Hagen). The film was so successful that the city of Berlin decided to name a path along a lake the "Paul und Paula Ufer" complete with a Paul-und-Paula bench to sit on. And I'm not sure if this is really a selling point, but it is also the favorite movie of Angela Merkel!
This will be a rare, high-definition screening of this crucial movie.
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