Date of Award
Bachelor of Arts
Professor Erika Nelson Mukherjee
DEFA, German Cinema, East Germany, Cinema, Die Architekten, Spur der Steine, Die Mörder sind unter uns, New Wave Cinema, Soviet Union, German Reunification
This presentation examines the evolving themes in the films produced by the German Democratic Republic’s (GDR) film monopoly Deutsche Film-Aktiengesellschaft (DEFA) from its founding in 1946 through German Reunification in 1990. It analyzes ten films that span a variety of genres, including the ‘rubble films’ (Trümmerfilme), fairy tale films (Märchenfilme), and the GDR-American westerns (Indianerfilme). They are also reflective of the different periods of GDR politics in which they were made, such as the brief GDR ‘New Wave’, the banned films of the mid-1960’s, and the push for films addressing contemporary society (Gegenwartsfilme) after 1971. By examining the themes of these films, and how they were received by both the people of the GDR and the GDR’s governing socialist party—the Sozialistische Einheitspartei Deutschlands (SED)—one can see how the thematic evolution of these films was a critical component in shaping the society’s values, as well as a reflection of the changing values and generational concerns that developed during DEFA’s forty-six years of operation. The two films that stand in starkest juxtaposition to each other, especially from what many outside the GDR expected from DEFA cinema, are The Murderers are Among Us (Die Mӧrder sind unter uns), the first film produced by DEFA in 1946, and The Architects (Die Architekten) from 1990, the final DEFA film produced in the GDR.
Hillman, David, "The Thematic Changes in DEFA Cinema" (2021). Honors Theses. 2424.