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A working-class family in Berlin in 1931 where survival is difficult, with massive unemployment in the wake of the Great Depression. After Anni's brother commits suicide in despair, her family finds itself forced to move to Kuhle Wampe, a lakeside camp on the outskirts of Berlin, now home to increasing numbers of unemployed. When Anni's relationship with Franz ends, she moves back to Berlin and gets involved in the workers' youth movement. Written by
DEFA Film Library
This is a great film, an early example of fiction film-making that is responsive to social and political circumstances, but that doesn't get bogged down in the naturalist pessimism of, say, Piel Jutzi's contemporary "Mutter Krausens Fahrt ins Glück." The cinematography may not be the most compelling, but it is sensitive, considered, and bears the mark of Dudow's admiration for Eisenstein. Brecht was only one of the collaborators on the script -- together with the reportage-novelist Ernst Ottwalt, even if he was its most outspoken defender in the censorship proceedings; and the idea for the film was Dudow's, a Bulgarian-born theater and film director who had made one documentary prior to "Kuhle Wampe" and would go on to co-found the East German studio, DEFA.
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