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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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Visions of the Wende in Adaptations of Contemporary Fiction by Jurek Becker, Christoph Hein and Clemens Meyer (Julian Preece)


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Visions of the Wende in Adaptations of Contemporary Fiction by Jurek Becker, Christoph Hein and Clemens Meyer

Andreas Dresen’s three major literary adaptations, which neatly span his career so far, are from works of fiction by celebrated male authors closely associated with the GDR.1 Their ostensible theme each time is the former East German republic itself or the momentous Wende period and its aftermath. The three films are So schnell es geht nach Istanbul (1990, from Jurek Becker’s short story ‘Romeo’), Willenbrock (2005, from the novel by Christoph Hein) and Als wir träumten (2015, from the novel by Clemens Meyer). As Mary-Elizabeth O’Brien explains in her chapter, the three authors straddle Dresen’s generation: Becker (1937–97) and Hein (b. 1944) were well established in both German states by 1989 but either still lived and wrote in the East (Hein) or continued to write about it (Becker), while Meyer (b. 1976) speaks for those born in the GDR whose adolescence was cut in two by the collapse of that state. For Dresen the three adaptations are thus further GDR collaborations to add to those with former DEFA actors, technicians and scriptwriters.2 While the Wende itself impinges in one way or another on most of his films, it is (with the exception of Stilles ← 193 | 194 → Land) in this trio of literary adaptations where he addresses and depicts it most directly. Through comparing the East–West theme in the three literary sources...

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