When Angela Merkel was supposed to present her favorite film a few years ago, the Chancellor at the time decided on a love film. However, not for any romance, but for a film that also tells of everyday life in the GDR: "The Legend of Paul and Paula". The director Heiner Carow took up a very fundamental question in the drama: Does man have a right to happiness?
50 years have passed since the theatrical release in the GDR. The production, starring Angelica Domröse and Winfried Glatzeder, started on March 30, 1973, according to the DEFA Foundation in Berlin, which manages the film heritage of the former GDR production company. A premiere had already been announced the day before.
Not many films manage to survive half a century in such a way that people still enjoy watching them voluntarily. Some films age rather poorly or the story simply has nothing to say to you anymore. The head of the DEFA Foundation, Stefanie Eckert, is different with "Paul and Paula". The film deals with a timeless theme - it is about the fulfillment of happiness and love. At the same time, there is a lightness in the way the story is told, which is also still relevant.
In her estimation, there are two aspects that have led to the film becoming a cult film for some. On the one hand the uncompromising character, especially of the character Paula. She managed to express feelings directly. "She was a simple worker with no privileges, a single mother of two, but who takes every opportunity to be happy." She is simply uncompromising in her way of life.
The actress Domröse took over the part at the time - she embodied a woman who naturally wanted more from life. "There has to be something else besides sleeping and working. And sleeping and working again," says Paula in a yellow bathrobe in a key scene. In the film she falls in love with the married Paul, played by Glatzeder.
A second argument in favor of the film are the stylistic devices, says Eckert. "The cheerful and the comic are placed in close proximity to the tragic and the sad. Sometimes you laugh and cry almost at the same time." The film attracted around three million viewers in the GDR to the cinema in the first year. He later started in West Germany, was less successful there, and then ran on television there with good ratings.
The director Carow and the screenwriter Ulrich Plenzdorf also showed queues when shopping and hauling coal. "It was sensational at the time that reality appeared like this in the cinema," Merkel said a few years ago at the film's presentation. There is nothing depressive, but shows vitality and still has a piece of irony.
Revealing bed scenes
Eckert says there was definitely a discussion as to whether the film would be allowed in the GDR. The constellation of figures did not necessarily correspond to the ideal of a socialist person. Society was also not portrayed as ideal. Certain common moral concepts were also touched on, for example with the affairs shown and quite revealing bed scenes.
By the way, some things in the film still seem crazy today. There are pear brandy and wreaths of flowers. At some point, the couple sails across the water, including the bed. This is accompanied by the song "Go to her and let your kite fly". However, the story takes dramatic turns. First Paul keeps his distance and then Paula experiences a heavy loss. In the end, only one of the two survives.