Castles and Cottages

Original title: (Schlösser und Katen)
GDR, 1957, 195 min, b&w
In German; English subtitles

This two-part epic traces the development of a manor and farm in Mecklenburg, from the flight of its aristocratic landowners before the advancing Soviet troops in 1945, to just after the East German uprising of June 17, 1953, by which time it has become an agricultural cooperative. Powerful stories and images take place in a context of historical events.


The story revolves around Annegret (Karla Runkehl), a peasant girl who is to go study to become an agronomist in the new order – and who is also the illegitimate daughter of the former lord of the manor, who raped her mother. The anarchic, yet optimistic chaos of the postwar years, the sometimes petty and personal nature of the political conflicts, and the rough edges displayed by even the heroes precludes this from being a purely dogmatic socialist-realist film.


Nevertheless, Castles and Cottages represents the filmic cornerstone of the GDR's foundation myth, as well as the enduring official explanation for the June 17 uprising—namely, that it was a planned attack on GDR by the West on "Day X."


Two-DVD set:

  • Part 1: Crooked Anton
  • Part 2: Annegret's Homecoming
Special features:
  • Turn Subtitles On/Off
  • Introductory Essay
  • Photo Gallery
  • Biographies & Filmographies
  • Timeline of Postwar Transformation
  • Land Reform in Eastern Germany
  • Eyewitness: Newsreels about the Filmmakers

Castles and Cottages

Screening Rights: 
Educational Streaming

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