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Andreas Dresen


Edited By Julian Preece and Nick Hodgin

Andreas Dresen is a leading European filmmaker whose œuvre now spans three decades and includes some of the most acclaimed German films of recent times, such as Halbe Treppe (Grill Point, 2002), Sommer vorm Balkon (Summer in Berlin, 2005) and Halt auf freier Strecke (Stopped on Track, 2011). The essays collected in this volume by leading scholars from the USA, UK and Ireland place him in the tradition of auteur cinema while emphasising his roots in the pre-1990 film industry of DEFA in the GDR. Dresen works with an established team of performers, technicians and scriptwriters, uses improvisation and non-professional actors, and makes music and song an integral component of many of his films. He is a scholar-filmmaker who pushes at the boundaries of his chosen modes and genres (documentary, neo-realism, films about films or literary adaptation); he is socially committed, casting a Brechtian eye on interpersonal encounters in neoliberal environments; and he is always interested to tell universal stories from the localities he knows best, the working-class milieus of Germany’s east.

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Alternative GDR History in Raus aus der Haut (1997) (Reinhild Steingröver)


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Alternative GDR History in Raus aus der Haut (1997)

Stilles Land: An opportunistic East German theatre manager, who snoops on dissidents among his staff, proudly shows off a dusty old costume from his production of Schiller’s Wilhelm Tell, a play that emphasises the moral obligation of the individual to act against illegitimate oppression.

Das andere Leben des Herrn Kreins: A former dissident and his Stasi shadow lean out of an office window clutching to a rope on which an oversized desk is dangling. The pair is fused together as they hold on for dear life as the weight of the desk threatens to pull them both down.

Raus aus der Haut: An elderly high school principal, a political hardliner and feared disciplinarian, is blindfolded and shoved through a basement window, burying one of his teenage hijackers beneath his weight as they collapse in a tangled heap on the floor.

These short scenes from three early films by Andreas Dresen capture the director’s core project of questioning the simplistic historical narratives about the GDR that emerged in the early 1990s and to some extent dominate to this day.1 Stilles Land (1992), Das andere Leben des Herrn Kreins (1995) and Raus aus der Haut (1997) were not intended to be a trilogy, nor did Dresen aim to make films which were specifically about the GDR. ← 67 | 68 → Nevertheless he explores three core topics of GDR history:...

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