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Fairy Tales And Children’s Films as Eternal Blockbusters: Die Geschichte Vom Kleinen Muck (The Story of Little Mook, Wolfgang Staudte, 1953)

  • Sebastian Heiduschke

Abstract

The story of the production of DEFA’s fairy tale Die Geschichte vom Kleinen Muck (The Story of Little Mook, Wolfgang Staudte, 1953) sounds like a fairy tale in itself. What began as a production to occupy the director and to fill the studio space due to the cancellation of the film Mutter Courage became East Germany’s most successful production ever. It sold almost 13 million tickets in East Germany alone, was exported to more than 60 countries, and turned out to be so popular that West German television stations circumvented the ban of DEFA productions to show this film year after year.1 Muck set the standards at DEFA in set design and overall commitment to produce high-quality films for children. Few (if any) other East German genres ever reached the consistent level of quality and excellence that DEFA committed to its fairy tales and children’s films; to this day, these films guarantee high audience ratings on television and good sales figures. Muck is the epitome of East German cinema, to be read beyond the constraints ofpolitical filmmaking due to its production by renowned director Wolfgang Staudte, a budget comparable to a film geared toward an adult audience, and being only the second fairy tale produced at DEFA.2

Keywords

Fairy Tale Film Production Movie Theater Happy Ending Adult Audience 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 3.
    Marc Silberman, “The First DEFA Fairy Tales: Cold War Fantasies of the 1950s,” in Take Two: Fifties Cinema in Divided Germany, ed. John Davidson and Sabine Hake (New York: Berghahn, 2007), 107.Google Scholar
  2. 5.
    For reasons why West Germany relied on television, see ibid. Silberman also cites the data from a study about television programming in the 1950s by Bernhard Merkelbach and Dirk Stötzel, “Das Kinderfernsehen in der ARD in den 50er Jahren: Quantitative und qualitative Ergebnisse zum Programmangebot für Kinder,” in Fernsehen für Kinder: Vom Experiment zum Konzept. Programmstrukturen—Produkte— Präsentationsformen, ed. Hans Dieter Erlinger, Bernhard Merkelbach, and Dirk Stötzel (Siegen: University of Siegen, 1990), 25.Google Scholar
  3. 7.
    See Joachim Giera, Gedanken zu DEFA-Kinderfilmen (Berlin: Betriebsakademie des VEB DEFA Studio für Spielfilme, 1982).Google Scholar
  4. 9.
    For more on the censorship of East German movies in West Germany, see Andreas Kötzing, “Zensur von DEFA Filmen in der Bundesrepublik,” Aus Politik und Zeitgeschichte, nos. 1–2 (2009): 33–39.Google Scholar
  5. 11.
    For more on the failed project, see Werner Hecht, “Staudte verfilmt Brecht,” in Apropos: Film 2003, ed. Ralf Schenk and Erika Richter (Berlin: Bertz, 2003), 8–23.Google Scholar
  6. 12.
    Sonja Fritzsche, “‘Keep the Home Fires Burning’: Fairy Tale Heroes and Heroines in an East German Heimat,” German Politics and Society 30, no. 4 (2012): 50.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 15.
    Qinna Shen, “Barometers of GDR Cultural Politics: Contextualizing the DEFA Grimm Adaptations,” Marvels Tales: Journal of Fairy Tale Studies 25, no. 1 (2011): 70.Google Scholar
  8. 16.
    For the educational aspects of DEFA fairytales and children’s films, see Benita Blessing, “Happily Socialist Ever After? East German Children’s Films and the Education of a Fairy Tale Land,” Oxford Review of Education 36, no. 2 (2010): 233–248.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 17.
    David Bathrick, The Powers of Speech: The Politics of Culture in the GDR (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1995), 167.Google Scholar
  10. 18.
    Jack Zipes, The Enchanted Screen: The Unknown History of Fairy Tale Films (New York: Routledge, 2010).Google Scholar
  11. 20.
    Ingelore König, Dieter Wiedemann, and Lothar Wolf, Zwischen Marx und Muck (Berlin: Henschel, 1996), 97.Google Scholar
  12. 22.
    See Rosemary Creeser, “Cocteau for Kids: Rediscovering The Singing, Ringing Tree,” in Cinema and the Realms of Enchantment: Lectures, Seminars, and Essays by Marina Warner and Others, ed. Duncan Petrie (London: British Film Institute, 1993), 111–124; http://3hfa.jimdo.com/; and Jim Morton’s blog http://eastgermancinema.com/2011/12/23/the — golden-goose/.Google Scholar

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© Sebastian Heiduschke 2013

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  • Sebastian Heiduschke

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