Gender, Class, and Sexuality: Ending Taboos in Die Legende von Paul und Paula (The Legend of Paul and Paula, Heiner Carow, 1973)
In 1971, East Germany’s new head of state Erich Honecker announced an end of taboos for the arts and signaled that critical approaches to socialism would be welcome. Prior this change, a film such as Heiner Carow’s Die Legende von Paul und Paula, which vehemently criticized East German contemporary society, likely would not have made it past the censors; however, the eradication of taboos allowed it be released in 1973. Its plot—and at times visually confusing love story about an adulterous relationship between a single working mother and a successful SED party member—combines exaggerated performances, esoteric dream sequences, symbolism, and rock music into a smorgasbord that promised DEFA’s departure into a new style of cinema. Surreal scenes, the exposure of the state’s infiltration of the private sphere, the persistent challenge of hypocritical behavior in socialism, and the depiction of sex on-screen ensured a winning combination with the public. Structured around dichotomies, Paul und Paula presented a love story that suggested East Germany’s ambivalence toward gender and class.
KeywordsPrivate Sphere Socialist Society Rock Music Career Ladder Love Story
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