Werner Bergemann was born in Wendisch Bork in Brandenburg, Germany, on August 4, 1930. He trained as an industrial clerk in his early life and later as a men’s tailor. In 1952, he became an assistant costume designer at the DEFA Studio for Feature Films. By 1958 he was lead costume designer on his own projects. Bergemann designed the costumes for well-known film and television productions directed by leading German artists, including Frank Beyer, Heiner Carow, Egon Günther, Volker Schlöndorff, Rainer Simon, Ulrich Weiss and Konrad Wolf. His oeuvre includes costumes for crime stories, comedies, historical and contemporary films, and children’s films.
Bergemann’s costume debut was with two award-winning productions by Konrad Wolf: Leute mit Flügeln and Professor Mamlock. He continued working with Wolf on his two autobiographical WWII classics, Ich war neunzehn and Mama, ich lebe. Bergemann also collaborated with director Rainer Simon throughout his career, designing the costumes for Simon’s historical films, including: Die Frau und der Fremde (which won of the Golden Bear at the 1985 Berlin International Film Festival); the trickster story Till Eulenspiegel; the family saga Wengler & Söhne, Eine Legende; and Simon’s fairy-tale film, Sechse kommen durch die Welt.
Bergemann also teamed up with other experienced DEFA set designers, including Alfred Hirschmeier, Hans Poppe and Alfred Thomalla. Over thirty DEFA feature films are credited to his name, not including many television films and series. Like many other East German artists, censorship often interrupted Bergemann’s work; both Die Russen kommen (dir. Heiner Carow), a film about a teenager who tries to cope with devastating experiences at the end of WWII, and Jadup und Boel (dir. Rainer Simon), a film that deals with suppressed memories from this same time period, were banned because of their controversial subject matter.
In 1988, Bergemann collaborated with the Swiss director Peter von Gunten on the East German-Swiss coproduction Pestalozzis Berg. Italian actor Gian Maria Volontè—who also worked with Sergio Leone, Jean-Luc Godard and the Taviani brothers—played the lead in this bio-pic about the world-famous humanist and educator Pestalozzi (1746-1827). Pestalozzis Berg competed for the Golden Bear at the 1989 Berlin International Film Festival. The international co-production Der Unhold (dir. Volker Schlöndorff), about an elite training camp for boys, was one of Bergemann’s the last films. The film was nominated for a Golden Lion at the 1996 Venice Film Festival.
Werner Bergemann, who worked at the DEFA Studios until they closed in 1991 and then became a freelance costume designer, died on June 29, 2014.
|1996||Der Unhold (The Ogre)|
|1994||Abschied von Agnes (Farewell to Agnes)|
|1993||Das letzte U-Boot (The Last Submarine, TV)|
|1990||Albert Einstein (TV series)|
|1988||Pestalozzis Berg (Pestalozzi’s Mountain)|
|1986||Wengler & Söhne, Eine Legende (Wengler & Sons: A Legend)|
|1984||Front ohne Gnade (Frontline Without Mercy, TV series)|
|1984||Die Frau und der Fremde (The Woman and the Stranger)|
|1982||Das Luftschiff (The Airship)|
|1980||Jadup und Boel (Jadup and Boel)|
|1980||Archiv des Todes (Deadly Archive, TV series)|
|1977||Mama, ich lebe (Mama, I’m Alive)|
|1977||Ich zwing dich, zu leben (I’ll Force You to Live)|
|1973||Die sieben Affären der Doña Juanita (Doña Juanita’s Seven Affairs, TV)|
|1972||Sechse kommen durch die Welt (Six Go Around the World)|
|1971||Männer ohne Bart (Men without Beards)|
|1969||Junge Frau von 1914 (Young Woman of 1914, TV)|
|1968/87||Die Russen kommen (The Russians Are Coming)|
|1967||Ich war neunzehn (I Was Nineteen)|
|1964||Als Martin vierzehn war (When Martin Was Fourteen)|
|1963||Reserviert für den Tod (Reserved for Death)|
|1962||… und deine Liebe auch (And Your Love Too)|
|1960||Leute mit Flügeln (People with Wings)|