The Naked Man on the Sports Field

(Der nackte Mann auf dem Sportplatz)

GDR, 1973, 102 min, Color
In German; English subtitles
Credits:
Director
Script
Dramaturg
Editor
Camera
Set Design
Costume Design
Music (Score)
Cast
Production Company

Synopsis

Kemmel is almost 40. Although little throws the good-natured sculptor off, he is torn... between wanting to address his generation’s memories of the Holocaust, and disappointment that many people don’t understand his works—despite official programs to bring art to the public. One day, he offers to make a sculpture for the sports field in his hometown.

 

The Wolf/Kohlhaase team based this tongue-in-cheek, episodic film on the life of Werner Stötzer, one of (East) Germany’s most important sculptors. They interweave personal memories, political defeats and the weight of German history into a nuanced story about the role of art and artists in society. References to other artists—including sculptor Will Lammert, painter Albert Ebert, photographer Einar Schleef and Soviet writer Anatoli Kusnetzov—add contextual layering to cultural debates taking place in early-1970s East Germany.

Commentary

Director Konrad Wolf and scriptwriter Wolfgang Kohlhaase based this tongue-in-cheek, episodic film on the life of Werner Stötzer (1931-2010), one of (East) Germany’s most important sculptors. Addressing the role of art and artists in society, the filmmakers interweave personal memories, historical dilemmas and their own political defeats into a nuanced story. References to other East German artists—including sculptor Will Lammert, painter Albert Ebert and photographer Einar Schleef—add an interesting contextual layer to cultural debates taking place in early 1970s East Germany.

 

 

Awards

2014 DDR Deluxe, Film Fest Hamburg, Germany
2013 Achtung Berlin! new berlin film award, Germany
1976 Filmex, Los Angeles
1975 The Museum of Modern Art, New York
1975 GDR Film Retrospective, Switzerland
1974 Locarno International Film Festival, Switzerland

 

Press comments

“The film explores the role of the artist in society and also makes a plea for the artist's freedom of expression.”  —Los Angeles Times

 

"The film was not very popular when it first reached the movie theaters, a fact which people tried to explain with the episodic structure, the unheroic hero and the ironic undertone. Meanwhile it seems that the film is becoming increasingly important, a dicovery on the second try." —Regine Sylvester, Konrad Wolf Retro

 

"A man works. He is no different from other people, he only does his work, and possibly and in some special way he is sensitive to his environment. the general impression of artistic activity often becomes polarized into an attitude of mystification on one hand and ignorance on the other. Mystification fosters the intangible and ethereal—the wind before the window, the kiss of the muse, the idea of the artist as an absolutely incomparable man. Ignorance propagates the two-fisted attitude that anyone could create art if he or she would only take nough time and was not busy doing truly serious things. We regard both attitudes skeptically." —Scriptwriter Wolfgang Kohlhaase

 

"One of the DEFA Studio's most introspective productions!"  —Sean Allan, DEFA at the Crossroads of East German and International Film Culture

 

"Director Konrad Wolf has given the film some good incidents and good feel for the actual work involved in sculpting. [...] A fairly outspoken pic!" —Variety

 

“[Konrad] Wolf succeeds in conveying fundamental questions out of scenes about daily life. These are filmed in an unpretentious and unrealistic manner, but then unexpectedly carry a satirical punch line.” –Ulrich Gregor, Geschichte des Films

 

“A quiet and accurate analysis (and deconstruction) of daily life in East Germany.” –stern.de

 

“A quiet, episodic film satire by DEFA director Konrad Wolf, who satirizes scenes of GDR everyday life and describes the conflicting position of the artist in his [or her] society. With its nuanced and ambitious content and composition, it is one of the best DEFA films ever.” –film-dienst

 

“A tragicomic satire about the artist’s existence in general, and in East Germany in particular.” –achtung berlin! Film Festival

 

 

“A central and possibly least recognized work by Wolf is The Naked Man on the Sports Field. The director tragicomically pairs memories of the [Nazi] persecution of Jews with the often unsuccessful struggle for artistic presence in socialist society.” –Der Tagesspiegel

 

“A film that is not about sharply dramatic conflicts, but rather the daily experiences of an artist in contemporary socialist society. The episodes are more suggestive than arranged, full of authentic details and humorous nuances, and without a trace of stereotypes or whitewashing.” –Die Zeit, 1974

Availability

Special features:
  • New digitally restored transfer
  • Biographies & Filmographies
  • “Trauma and Memory: An Artist in Turmoil,” by film historian Angelos Koutsourakis (Univ. of Leeds)
  • Assistant Director Doris Borkmann on Collaborating with Konrad Wolf (Germany, 2007, 6 min.)
  • Wolfgang Kohlhaase on the Art in the Film (Germany, 2017, dir. Nadine Fuhrhop, 14 min.)
  • Studio Visit: Werner Stötzer (Germany, 2009, dirs. Christina Czymay, Aaron Wendland, 7 min.)
  • The Painter Albert Ebert (GDR, 1982, dir. Werner Kohlert, 19 min.)
  • “Albert Ebert: Finding Beauty in Daily Life,” by art historian Dorit Litt

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