Off-site Event: The Cold War and Divided Germany in East German Cinematography

November 18, 2010 // 5:30pm7:30pm
Event Co-sponsors: 
History and Public Policy Program

The Cold War and Divided Germany in East German Cinematography offers viewers a glimpse of some of the Cold War-era movies produced in former East Germany. The series features five movies released between the years 1950 and 1972, as well as one post-1989 production.

The first sci-fi film made in East Germany, The Silent Star is based on Stanislaw Lem's science fiction novel, The Astronauts (1951). An international expedition is sent to Venus in 1970 to uncover the mystery of a reel of unknown material found in the Gobi desert in 1908. A member of the crew deciphers a message on the reel and discovers it is a declaration of war on the Earth. The movie was praised as a technical masterpiece and hit theaters during the U.S.-Soviet space race set off by the Sputnik launch. The film team understood it as a warning against atomic war as well as a parable about international communication.

The movie will be introduced by independent cultural historian Paul Werner Wagner. Joining the post-screening discussion will be Jonathan Skolnik, professor of German & Scandinavian Studies at the University of Massachusetts.

The event is hosted by the Wilson Center in cooperation with: The DEFA Foundation, Berlin; DEFA Film Library, University of Massachusetts, Amherst; Goethe-Institut, Washington, DC; German Historical Institute, Washington, DC; Heinrich Böll Foundation, Washington, DC; and The George Washington University.

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