Powerless Heroines: Gender and Agency in DEFA Films of the 1960s and 1970s

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Book Chapter

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Department 1



At first glance, the periods of culture discussed in this chapter seem similar. The early 1960s and the early 1970s are considered the most liberal periods of East German cultural history. They are also seen as comparable from a perspective of power politics: both have been interpreted as political concessions to the field of culture after major political ruptures. A second glance, however, reveals significant differences, especially as regards gender. Indeed, men dominate the movies depicting contemporary life in the GDR of the 1960s and women those of the 1970s. This corresponds to the overall representation of East German society in cinema, and more specifically, to the ability transform it. Despite the evident abandonment of political master narratives and the "Ruckzug in den Alltag" (retreat into everyday life) that has been described as a leit-motif of literature and film in the 1970s, GDR cinema became neither apolitical nor acritical.



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