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

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Abstract

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).

Keywords

German Democratic Republic Screen Capture Weimar Republic Young Audience Cotton Mill 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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© Martin Brady 2014

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