The Dove on the Roof | Die Taube auf dem Dach (1973/2010)

October 21st, 2019
Author: Meredith Taylor

Dir/Wri: Iris Gusner | Cast: Heidemarie Wenzel, Gunter Naumann, Katrin Martin, Heimat Guass | Director of Photography: Roland Gräf | GDR 1973/2010, b/w, DCP, digitally restored version 2010, (35mm), 85 mins. Drama 90’

Iris Gusner’s light and episodic story of a young contruction site manager who has to juggle shortages of building material and her relationships with two very different men was made in a moment of artistic freedom only to be condemned to decades of oblivion when the political climate changed again.

Linda Hinrichs is the manager of a building site in Thuringia in the south of the GDR. New “Plattenbau” (prefabricated) flats are to be erected, and Linda has to move things forward in spite of building material shortages and other problems. As if this was not enough of a challenge, Linda also has to juggle her relationships with two male colleagues she feels attracted to. Daniel is an idealistic and a little crazy student who is seeking some work experience during his summer holidays, while the much older brigade leader Böwe is a restless, sometimes alcohol infused soul who has moved from construction site to site for years. Gusner surrounds this trio with an ensemble of original characters and spins a loose and episodic, sometimes amusing, sometimes melancholic narrative around them. Lightness and a touch of anarchy, the change of location between the construction site and the narrow streets of the medieval town of Arnstadt, references to Palestinian refugees and Angela Davis, as well as a daring opening “cosmic” montage, make this film stand out within the DEFA film production of the time.

Making such a film seemed possible in 1972, when Gusner’s script for this film, her directorial debut, passed the DEFA studio’s assessment.  But by the time the final film was judged by the studio officials in 1973, the mood had changed. Not only was the film criticised as an ‘artistic error’, it was also denounced for its supposedly disrespectful representation of the GDR worker. Though defended by renowned directors such as Konrad Wolf and Kurt Maetzig, the film was never licensed for distribution. It only resurfaced after the film’s camera man Roland Gräf (who also shot Born in ’45 by Jürgen Böttcher) while searching for banned DEFA films. As the print was no longer screenable, a black and white dup-negative was made from which a black and white screening print was struck.The film we are screening is a digital version of a reconstruction made by the DEFA foundation in 2009 on the basis of the mentioned dub-negative. That is why colour film stills of the film circulate, but the film can only be screened in black and white. Review courtesy of Goethe Institute

The Dove on The Roof –  Review courtesy of the Goethe Institute | 30 October 2019

The Goethe Institute will also be screening a Böttcher season this October 2019


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