This article is a diachronic study of the fall of the Berlin Wall as it has been represented in German fiction films from 1989 until 2010. The focus is on the formal features of the inclusion of the event in filmic narratives and on the reactions by film critics to the representations. By studying the aesthetics of representation and the reactions and expectations expressed by critics, it is possible to trace the ways in which the event has changed from a sacrosanct experience, vividly remembered, to a historical affair of little controversy. At the same time, the article also depicts a change in the representations themselves. Starting with gritty realism, the films turn to ironic hyperbole in their depictions of the fall from around 1999. After 2003, however, the unreal representations give way to generic dramas that adhere to strictly conventional narratives and aesthetics. This, the article concludes, coincided with the transformation of the memories of the event from communicative to cultural.
ErllAstrid and WodiankaStephanie. 2008. “Einleitung: Phänomenologie und Methodologie des ‘Erinnerungsfilms.’” In Film und kulturelle Erinnerung: Plurimediale Konstellationen edited by ErllAstrid and WodiankaStephanie1–20. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.
KnischewskiGerd and SpittlerUlla. 2010. “Memorialization of the German-German Border in the Context of Constructions of Heimat.” In Memorialization in Germany since 1945 edited by NivenWilliam John and ChloeE. M. Paver 318–27. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
LindenbergerThomas. 2011a. “Imagine the End of Absurdity: Transcending the Iron Curtain on German Screens.” Paper presented at the conference From the Iron Curtain to the Schengen Area: Bordering Communist and Postcommunist Europe Vienna: Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for European History and Public Spheres Institute for Human Sciences and the Historical Commission of the Austrian Academy of Sciences 29 September 2011.
LindenbergerThomas. 2011b. “Kino als Aufarbeitung? 11 Thesen zu Fiktion und Genre im ddr-Erinnerungsfilm.” In Politische Gewalt und Machtausübung im 20. Jahrhundert: Zeitgeschichte Zeitgeschehen und Kontroversen; Festschrift für Gerhard Botz edited by BergerHeinrichDejnegaMelanieFritzRegina and PrenningerAlexander599-610. Vienna: Böhlau.
See also Marc Silberman (1994) for an overview of the documentary films about the events and Reinhild Steingröver (2014) for reflections by defa directors on the film ideas they were unable to realize in unified Germany’s film industry.