Passed by History: Dystopia, Parable, and Bookend: Die Architekten (The Architects, Peter Kahane, 1990)

  • Sebastian Heiduschke


When Peter Kahane’s film Die Architekten premiered on June 21, 1990, it depicted a country that no longer existed. This would not be remarkable if the film was revisiting a historical period in time. However, Kahane’s movie looks back merely a couple of years to East Germany in the late 1980s, yet it portrays a country that gives the impression of being stuck in the past, unable to offer opportunities for young generations, and not having developed much for decades in terms of quality of life. Like no other DEFA film, Die Architekten reflects the melancholia and disappointment of many East Germans with their country; read in conjunction with its production history, it reveals even more the desperate state of East Germany on all levels at the time of its collapse. In a way, the film works both as Kahane reckoning with an East Germany that suffocates its citizens and as an appropriate conclusion to a DEFA cinema that started in rubble and now ends in symbolic rubble.1


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  1. 3.
    Peter Kahane, “Interview 1993,” in DEFA NOVA: Nach wie vor? Versuch einer Spurensicherung, ed. Dietmar Hochmuth (Berlin: Freunde der deutschen Kinemathek, 1993), 115. (My translation.)Google Scholar
  2. 4.
    Ingrid Poss and Peter Warnecke, Spur der Filme: Zeitzeugen über die DEFA (Berlin: Links, 2006), 462.Google Scholar
  3. 7.
    Laura McGee, “Ich wollte ewig einen richtigen Film machen! Und als es soweit war, konnte ich’s nicht!’ The End Phase of the GDR in Films by DEFA Nachwuchsregisseure,” German Studies Review 26, no. 2 (May 2003): 323.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 9.
    One of the many books about this time is by Mary Fulbrook, Anatomy of a Dictatorship: Inside the GDR, 1949–89 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995).Google Scholar

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© Sebastian Heiduschke 2013

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  • Sebastian Heiduschke

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