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.
Lost at Home: Als wir träumten (2015), Liminal Space and GDR Cinema Tradition (Mary-Elizabeth O’brien)
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Lost at Home: Als wir träumten (2015), Liminal Space and GDR Cinema Tradition
Als wir träumten is Andreas Dresen’s grittiest and most action-packed film to date, a bold foray into popular filmmaking that nonetheless reveals his aesthetic roots in DEFA. An adaptation of Clemens Meyer’s 2006 eponymous novel based on a screenplay by Wolfgang Kohlhaase, it is Dresen’s third film (after Stilles Land and Das andere Leben des Herrn Kreins, both made more than twenty years earlier) set in the transitionary period of the Wende when the history of unification had not yet been written. In this chapter I examine how Als wir träumten presents the Wende as void and rupture, a multidimensional timescape in which home becomes uncanny and an expression of unstable spatial, political, and cultural borders. In addition, I argue that despite Dresen’s move toward genre cinema, he aligns himself with the DEFA legacy that promoted an unvarnished view of everyday life and a critical assessment of reality. What is unique about all his films is that he incorporates self-reflective gestures and narrative excess, which aligns them with a very different, albeit less operative, DEFA tradition that is often overlooked in scholarship. Just as Wolfgang Kohlhaase, Gerhard Klein and Konrad Wolf did in some of their most innovative works, Dresen uses self-reflexivity to question the very notion of realism in film and to highlight the constructed nature of social reality.
In the twenty-five...
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