Film German Cinema 101: Goya or the Hard Way to Enlightenment (Goya – oder der arge Weg der Erkenntnis)

Goya or the Hard Way to Enlightenment © Film Verleih Arkadi Sager

Mon, 01/14/2019

Landmark's West End Cinema

2301 M Street Northwest
Washington, DC 20037

An introduction to the film will be provided by Sky Sitney, co-director of film festival Double Exposure and Assistant Professor in the Film and Media Studies program at Georgetown University. A discussion will follow the screening.

German Democratic Republic / Soviet Union, 1971, 135 min., Director: Konrad Wolf. Screenplay: Konrad Wolf and Angel Wangenstein (based on the novel by Lion Feuchtwanger)

Spain, around the end of the 18th century. Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes makes a living as a court painter of King Carlos IV. His paintings hang in castles; he may paint the queen on horseback, render her entire family in portrait. Meanwhile, the Spanish Inquisition terrorizes the country. The married Goya has a passionate affair with the duchess Alba, although he struggles with her arrogance. His paintings express more and more disillusionment — much to the disapproval of the Grand Inquisitor, who mercilessly combats the growing resistance of the Spanish people. Eventually Goya must flee to France to save his own life. Konrad Wolf’s film may have been the most opulent production that the DEFA (Deutsche Film-Aktiengesellschaft, the East German state-owned film studio) ever made, and is rich with bitter topical allusions to the relationship between art and state power.

Konrad Wolf was born in 1925 to Friedrich Wolf, a prominent Communist thinker and doctor. Due to his father’s political views, Wolf’s family fled Nazi Germany for Moscow in 1933. As a young man, Wolf’s interest in Soviet film grew; he was a member of the Red Army, an experience which would later inform his film I Was Nineteen (1968). After his service, Wolf studied film at the Gerasimov Institute of Cinematography in Moscow. In 1954, he made his first film in the German Democratic Republic. By 1959, Wolf was an established East German filmmaker, winning the Special Jury Prize at the 1959 Cannes Film Festival for Stars. His 1971 film Goya or the Hard Way to Enlightenment was an impressive cinematic feat for both Soviet Russia and the German Democratic Republic. Wolf worked for part of his career as a director at DEFA and served as the President of the GDR Academy of Arts, Berlin. He died in East Berlin in 1982.
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This event is part of the German Cinema 101 film series. German Cinema 101 is part of the project Wunderbar: A Celebration of German Film. From Beloved Sisters to A Coffee in Berlin and Young Goethe in Love, from The Blue Angel to The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari — we are celebrating German-American friendship with our partner Kanopy by bringing 48 German films to your screens. Goethe-Instituts and Goethe Pop-Ups across the U.S. will take part in the celebration by showing films, organizing film festivals, and inviting German filmmakers to speak.

Are you currently enrolled in a German course at the Goethe-Institut Washington? If so, pick up your free ticket from the front desk today!