THE RED ELVISAmerican singer and actor Dean Reed is a phenomenon. Largely ignored in the West, he was a huge star in South America and the Eastern bloc countries during the Cold War. Dean Reed was a political idealist who loved to entertain, a showman who lived in the GDR; a ladies' man in search of his great love, who saw in Socialism the fulfilment of his personal utopia. He performed German Schlagerat "Kessel Buntes", and also had himself photographed in the Lebanon with a machine gun slung over his shoulder.
Dean Reed appeared in 20 films; he produced 13 LPs and gave concerts in 32 different countries. As a US citizen, he enjoyed complete freedom of travel, at the same time extolling the virtues of the wall in interviews. A friend of Salvador Allende, Daniel Ortega and Yassir Arafat, he also campaigned for peace. In 1986 his contradictive life came to a mysterious end in an East Berlin lake.
This film tells the story of Dean Reed's rise and fall. His tragic life is a mosaic dominated by his longing for success and his naïve political engagement at a time when the world was divided by two major ideologies. Reed's mysterious death still gives rise to speculation and is reason enough to take a look behind the façade of his life of showbiz and protest. Apart from familymembers, other contemporaries looking back on Dean Reed's life in this film include Chilean radio DJ Chucho Fernandez, writer Isabel Allende, American radio host Peter Boyles, actor Armin Mueller-Stahl, DEFA film director Celino Bleiweiß and ex-GDR politician Egon Krenz.