Marx for Children: Moor and the Ravens of London and Hans Röckle and the Devil



Between 1946 and 1990 DEFA (Deutsche Film-Aktiengesellschaft), the state film studio of the German Democratic Republic (GDR), produced a diverse corpus of around 180 feature-length films for children (Kinderfilme). Despite the success of these films with audiences and, for the most part at least, with critics and functionaries, the East German filmmaker Heiner Carow — later director of Die Legende von Paul und Paula (The Legend of Paul and Paula, 1973), the GDR’s most successful film, and Coming Out (1989), its first explicitly gay movie — identified as early as 1958 an ideological crisis in the industry. He summarised the problems facing children’s films as a deficit of realism, a tendency towards ’vagueness and vulgar materialism’, either they were too fantastical (the fairy-tale narratives) or too negative in their portrayal of contemporary society (the gritty, neorealist ‘every-day’ stories): ‘We can thus only conclude that the directors of films for children and young people […] are lagging behind the developments in society’ (König et al. 1996: 23).1 Whilst self-criticism of this kind was an obligatory ritual amongst GDR artists at this time, Dziuba does neatly identify a schism in films for young people in the wake of the success in the previous year of the most iconic of all GDR children’s films, the whimsical, faintly psychedelic fairy-tale Das singende klingende Bäumchen (The Singing Ringing Tree, Francesco Stefani, 1957),2 and official disapproval of the candid portrayal of teenage disillusionment with GDR society in Gerhard Klein’s Berlin — Ecke Schönhauser (Berlin — Down Schönhauser Way, 1957).


German Democratic Republic Screen Capture Weimar Republic Young Audience Cotton Mill 
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© Martin Brady 2014

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