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Crossing the Wall

The Western Feature Film Import in East Germany


Rosemary Stott

More than twenty years after its collapse in 1989, the Berlin Wall remains a symbol of the vigour with which communist East Germany kept out the ‘corrupting influences’ of neighbouring West Germany. However, despite the restrictions, a surprising number of artistic works, including international films, did ‘cross the Wall’ and reach audiences in the wide network of cinemas in East Germany.
This book takes a fresh look at cinema as a social and cultural phenomenon in the German Democratic Republic (GDR) and analyses the transnational film relations between East Germany and the rest of the world. Drawing on a range of new archival material, the author explores which films were imported from the West, what criteria were applied in their selection, how they were received by the national press and film audiences, and how these imports related to DEFA (East German) cinema. The author places DEFA films alongside the international films exhibited in the GDR and argues that film in East Germany was actually more transnational in character than previously thought.


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Acknowledgements ix Introduction 1 Chapter One Film Programming Policy and the Western Feature Film Import: An Overview 23 Chapter Two National Cinemas in the Film Programmes of the GDR: The American, British and West German Film Import 95 Chapter Three Genre Film in the Film Programmes of the GDR: The Western and the Science Fiction Film 145 Chapter Four Themes in the Film Programmes of the GDR: Race and Gender Roles and the Family 185 Conclusion 239 Appendices 249 Notes for Appendices One to Three 249 Appendix One: American Film Releases in the GDR 1970–1989 251 Appendix Two: British Film Releases in the GDR 1960–1989 259 Appendix Three: West German Film Releases in the GDR 1970–1989 267 viii Bibliography 273 Index 299 Index of Films 303

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