Fräulein Schmetterling

Miss Butterfly
After the death of their father, 18-year-old Helene Raupe (“coccoon”) and her younger sister Asta come under the guardianship of the youth welfare office in East Berlin. Helene fails miserably as a fishmonger, fashion assistant and bus conductor, all jobs ordained for her by the authorities. The young woman really only “emerges” in her fantasies, where she can escape from her dull, normal life … Fräulein Schmetterling was close to the Czech New Wave and not only because the lead was played by mime Melania Jakubisková. The screenwriters Christa and Gerhard Wolf conceived the film as a “modern day fairy tale” on the model of Věra Chytilová, and wanted to give expression to the everyday life of young people in East Germany. Documentary segments shot with hidden cameras and microphones contrast with poetic passages. The contrast between the desire for self fulfilment and the reality of East German society was equally stark. As job placement officer Himmelblau (“sky blue”) says, “young people these days actually demand pure communism!” Work on the film was suspended in 1966 and it was not until 2005 that the footage was assembled into a chronologically linear edit.
by Kurt Barthel
with Melania Jakubisková, Christa Heiser, Carola Braunbock, Milan Sladek
Germany (GDR 1949 to 1990) -1966/Deutschland 2005 118’

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