Berlin Around the Corner

(Berlin um die Ecke)

GDR, 1966/1990, 83 min, b&w
In German; English subtitles
Credits:
Director
Script
Dramaturg
Editor
Camera
Set Design
Costume Design
Music (Score)
Cast

Synopsis

Berlin in the 1960s. Olaf (Dieter Mann) and Horst (Kaspar Eichel) are two young metalworkers, who provoke their older colleagues with critiques of the antiquated equipment and lack of materials... not to mention their love of leather jackets and motorbikes. Olaf and Horst begin to be targeted in the house newsletter, and the generational conflict escalates.

 

This film is the fourth in the Berlin Film series by the Klein/Kohlhaase team. In 1966, officials banned the rough cut in the aftermath of the SED Party’s 11th Plenum, condemning the film as “dishonest and anti-socialist.” As of 1987, the rough-cut version was shown in arthouse screenings. Scriptwriter Wolfgang Kohlhaase and film editor Evelyn Carow revisited the available material after the fall of the Berlin Wall and produced an abridged version that premiered in 1990. This DVD presents the new digitally restored transfer of the 1990 version of the film.

Commentary

After Gerhard Klein and Wolfgang Kohlhaase enjoyed such huge successes with their Berlin Series (Alarm at the CircusA Berlin Romance, and Berlin - Schönhauser Corner), they embarked on a new project, which was to be called Berlin: Chapter IV. Life in the GDR had changed substantially from the earlier movies in the 1950s: This time they depicted young people in the divided metropolis of Berlin. 

 

The Wall was by now a stark reality. Kohlhaase says, "We thought it had to be possible from that time on to talk all the more earnestly and openly about our own contradictions." The author broadened his range of characters considerably, giving equal importance to young and old. The inner world of the protagonists was believable, and the basic tone was of an almost excruciating honesty. There was passion among the old men, recalcitrance among the young men, and a chasm between the generations. Kohlhaase successfully translated these generational problems into an exciting story that avoided didactic morals. 

 

Banned in 1966 along with the other “Rabbit films,” this production was first released after 20 years.

Awards

2018 Images of the Future: The Cinema of East Germany, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
2016 Restrospective Germany 1966, Berlin International Film Festival
1990 FIPRESCI Prize & Interfilm Award – Honorable Mention, Forum of New Cinema, Berlin International Film Festival

 

Press comments

"The scenes and storylines are loosely connected in a filmic essay of unconventional beauty!" —2016 Berlin International Film Festival

 

“A very circumspect and carefully worded picture: a social survey of working class conditions at the time.”   —Variety

 

“An honest attempt to discuss the right of individuality.”         —Lexikon des Internationalen Films

 

“Directed by one of the most consistent practitioners of the GDR’s adaptation of Italian neorealism.”
—Barton Byg, in Framing the Past: The Historiography of German Cinema and Television

 

“This feature film is a precise, quiet, deeply moving human document of working-class life in the East in the mid-1960s.”
—Erika Richter, Das zweite Leben der Filmstadt Babelsberg

 

“Obviously, the poetic realism was intolerable.”
— zitty Berlin

Availability

Special features:
  • New digitally restored version
  • Biographies & Filmographies
  • “Berlin Chapter IV,” by Henning Wrage, Gettysburg College
  • “Jeans, Leather Jacket, Cowboy Hat: The Costume Design Concept in Berlin around the Corner,” by Annette Dorgerloh, Humboldt University Berlin
  • "Official Decision Statement on Berlin around the Corner (1966)"
  • Interview with Scriptwriter Wolfgang Kohlhaase about the Film, 2001, 11 min.

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