Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Trümmerfilme: 15 films in 4 days

This week I've been at the National Film Archive in Berlin from 9:00-3:00 every day, watching movies made 1946-1949 in Germany, many of the so-called "rubble films". I had to make myself a schedule of what I can fit into my time there. I know the archive gets really busy with summer researchers, so I wanted to make sure I got in now. (And it's been rainy and gross: good film-watching weather.) I didn't really know what to expect, but I contacted the archive and since I'm a PhD student the use of their materials is free of charge. They just set me up in a little room with a TV and VCR and DVD player and let me watch their materials. Tomorrow I am going to see one movie that is still film, hasn't been transferred to DVD or VHS, so I have to have someone run the projector for me.

"Rubble Films" are the films that were shot in the ruins of Germany, with the rubble as a background. Only a few deal with Nazi past, many deal with contemporary issues (food shortage, black market, housing shortage, war veterans). Some are comedies, some are dramas. These are mostly films that you can't watch many other places. There are only a handful that you can get outside of an archive, in normal video rentals or libraries (Die Mörder sind unter uns is the most famous, from 1946, and is widely available. It was the first post-war film). So it's an amazing resource.
It's not as fun as it may sound, though. Some of the films are good, but not all of them. Some are quite boring and the DEFA films can be a little heavy-handed on the socialist optimism. I really enjoyed Kein Platz für Liebe, No Space/Place for Love. It's a comedy about a couple that was married via long-distance during the war (fern getraut), and now that they are reunited they can't find any privacy in postwar Berlin (housing shortage, etc). They go to the Tiergarten to sit on a park bench, and just as they're about to kiss some guy accuses them of stealing vegetables (they turned the Tiergarten into aa veg garden after the war). They tell him that they're married, and he just laughs at the idea that a married couple would be kissing on a park bench. ha! I'm learning lots about 1940s social norms :). Unfortunately, some of the film and sound quality isn't that great, so that also adds a bit of complication. Three more films to go tomorrow, then I get my much-needed vacation. :)

Here is some rare film footage of Berlin after the war:

1 comment:

  1. Tante MargueriteApril 5, 2012 at 2:37 PM

    Der Film was so traurig!