Böttcher’s personal response to the Fall of the Berlin Wall. Impressions, voices and sounds gathered along the crumbling border between East and West in different Berlin locations give room for a reflection on how we deal with history.
The last film in our Jürgen Böttcher series is also the last film the director made in the GDR and in the context of the DEFA. It marks the dissolution of a country, whose ideology and rules had interfered with Böttcher’s life and art for decades, whose suffocating restrictions he had resented more and more. Yet, the film seems more like a reflection than a reckoning. Böttcher and his team filmed in 1989 and 1990 at historically significant locations in Berlin such as Potsdamer Platz, the Brandenburg Gate, the Reichstag and unused underground stations. Adopting his typical approach of observing and engaging in short spontaneous exchanges with people he meets along the way, such as enthusiastic foreign students or a couple of small children trying to sell off pieces of the wall, Böttcher captures an ambivalent image of the crumbling “anti-fascist protection wall”. To this he adds another layer by projecting archive film footage from Germany’s history on pieces of the Wall. In flickering images we see Emperor Wilhelm ride through the Brandenburg Gate, Nazis march with their torches, the Wall being built, a policeman fleeing to the West. Böttcher withholds all spoken commentary, allowing us to listen to voices and the noises of machines and small hammers trying to hack away at the past.
The Wall (Die Mauer), GDR 1990, colour & b/w, 35mm, 99 mins. With English subtitles.
Directed by Jürgen Böttcher.
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