The script for the film about the marital crisis of young Al and Li received approval in the spring of 1966 – the story seemed harmless to the party functionaries. But then they screened the footage and became alarmed. Using largely non-professional actors, Jürgen Böttcher and Roland Gräf had shot unvarnished scenes of the life of young people in 1960s East Berlin. Böttcher agreed to a series of changes to avoid production being halted immediately, including cutting entire characters. But first, Böttcher had to cut a sequence that the director considered one of the most important in the film. In it, East German young people and western tourists unexpectedly confront each other at a distance amid the war-damaged ruins of Gendarmenmarkt square. It’s unclear who’s staring at whom and, as voices and noises fall silent, the Berlin Wall seems to run diagonally across the square. On the unedited production soundtrack used for the censored version of the film, all the actors’ voices can be heard; when the film was later completed, the post-dubbing rendered them inaudible. During the voice re-recording in 1990, only the lead actor, Rolf Römer, looped his own voice.
by Jürgen Böttcher
with Monika Hildebrand, Rolf Römer, Paul Eichbaum, Gesine Rosenberg
Germany (GDR 1949 to 1990) 1966