Mama, I'm Alive

(Mama, ich lebe)

GDR, 1976, 103 min, color
In German; English subtitles
Credits:
Director
Script
Dramaturg
Editor
Camera
Set Design
Costume Design
Music (Score)
Narrator
Cast

Synopsis

In a Russian POW camp, four Germans determined to end WWII change into Red Army uniforms. Are they patriots or traitors, heroes or opportunists? Although they go to the frontlines, their new Russian comrades are initially unsure whether to trust them. Three of them then accept a mission behind German lines, but they are unprepared to fire upon their countrymen and it ends up costing the life of a Russian soldier. In the meantime, the fourth man has fallen in love with Russian radio operator Svetlana. After being criticized by the other Russians, he too agrees to participate in the mission… 

 

This film, which centers on the difficult moral questions raised in wartime, draws on director Konrad Wolf's experiences as a propaganda officer with the Red Army in Germany at the end of WWII. Wolf saw this film—which was inspired by the 1934 Russian war film Chapaev and featured actor Donatas Banionis (Solaris, Goya, Beethoven – Days of a Life)—as a consolidation and continuation of what he wanted to express in his 1967 film I Was Nineteen.

Awards

2017 Film:ReStored_02, Das Filmerbe-Festival, Berlin
2001 Das geteilte Himmel retrospective, Film Archive Austria, Vienna
1978 Silver Prize, Avellino International Film Festival, Italy
1977 Art Prize of the Free German Trade Union Federation (Werner Bergmann, Wolfgang Kohlhaase, Konrad Wolf)
1977 Golden Bear nominee, Berlin International Film Festival
1977 Interfilm Award (Special Mention), Berlin International Film Festival

Press comments

“Director Konrad Wolf succeeds in creating striking scenes within these psychologically conflictual circumstances.”   —Heinz Kersten, So viele Träume

 

“The film is based on Fragen an ein Foto (Questions for a Photo), a radio drama by [scriptwriter Wolfgang] Kohlhaase that aired in 1969. As with most of Kohlhaase’s work, one focus is on the subtleties of language and their effects on our ability to communicate with each other. This time he moves outside of his usual Berlin sphere to tackle the problems of communicating across two different languages and What to do? The way he wrote it was basically incomprehensible! cultural differences can impede the exchange of ideas. This was Kohlhaase’s third film with Konrad Wolf, but it wouldn’t be his last. The duo would work together again on Solo Sunny, possibly their best effort as a team.”   —Jim Morton, eastgermancinema.com

Availability

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